Departamento del Distrito: When Models Are Systems

One of six installations for the digital exhibition by winners of the 2022 League Prize.

When Models Are Systems is an adapted communication tower that produces its own energy and atmosphere. The installation is located on the rooftop of a former lace factory in Mexico City and is anchored by the building’s existing column grid.

The tower plays host to an assemblage of devices that collectively measure, channel and ultimately generate an exterior environment. Attached to a seven-meter-tall tubular steel structure at varying heights, these devices ground electrical currents, measure humidity, collect rainwater, monitor wind flows, reflect light, and produce solar energy. This energy, in turn, powers integrated spotlights that illuminate the surrounding roof deck, loudspeakers synced to a playlist, and misters that cool the air. A temporal space for gathering is produced. 

Plugging into existing social, environmental, and built systems on site, the installation is grounded to its context both physically and operationally. The atmospheric products of the tower are active for a finite period of time each day, determined by the amount of energy that is produced and stored by a single 85-watt solar panel linked to a generator and battery. Taking advantage of the rainy season in Mexico City, which spans late May through November, the project is dependent on the periods of intense morning sunshine and afternoon thunderstorms that are typical during these months. 

In conversation with a roofscape of billboards, transmission lines, and water tanks that sit atop buildings throughout Mexico City, When Models Are Systems makes visible both the precarity and potential of Mexico’s natural environment.

En español
When Models Are Systems
es una torre de comunicaciones adaptada la cual produce su propia energía y atmósfera. La instalación se localiza en la azotea de una antigua fábrica de encaje en la Ciudad de México y está anclada a la retícula existente de columnas del edificio.

La torre alberga un conjunto de dispositivos que de manera colectiva miden, canalizan y, en última instancia, generan un ambiente exterior. Conectados a alturas variables sobre una torre de acero tubular de siete metros de altura, estos dispositivos dan tierra a corrientes eléctricas, miden la humedad, recolectan el agua de lluvia, monitorean la dirección del viento, reflejan la luz, y producen energía solar. A su vez, dicha energía alimenta a los reflectores que iluminan el piso de la azotea alrededor de la torre, a las bocinas conectadas a una playlist, y al aspersor de agua que enfría el aire. De este modo, se produce un espacio de encuentro temporal.

Conectándose a los sistemas sociales, del medio ambiente y construidos preexistentes del sitio, la instalación se ancla a su contexto tanto física como operacionalmente. Los productos atmosféricos de la torre se encuentran activos cada día por un tiempo limitado, determinado por la cantidad de energía que es producida y almacenada por un sólo panel solar de 85 Watts conectado a un generador y a una batería. Aprovechando la temporada de lluvias de la Ciudad de México, la cual abarca los meses de mayo a noviembre, el proyecto depende de los periodos de sol intenso por las mañanas y las fuertes tormentas eléctricas por las tardes, típicas durante dichos meses.

En conversación con un paisaje de espectaculares, líneas de transmisión y tinacos los cuales ocupan las azoteas de edificios en toda la Ciudad de México, When Models Are Systems visibiliza tanto la precariedad del medio ambiente en México como su potencial.

Location: Laguna, Colonia Doctores, Mexico City
Opening date: May 27, 2022

Project team: Nathan Friedman, Francisco Quiñones, Alfonso Peláez Rovalo
Technical consultant: ESYSTEC México

With the support of Rice Architecture, Laguna.

When Models Are Systems, installation view. Photo by Departamento del Distrito.

When Models Are Systems, communication infrastructure catalog, Mexico City. Departamento del Distrito.

When Models Are Systems, project drawing. Departamento del Distrito.

When Models Are Systems, installation view. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

When Models Are Systems, installation view. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

When Models Are Systems, opening event at Laguna, Mexico City. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

When Models Are Systems, opening event at Laguna, Mexico City. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

When Models Are Systems, installation view. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

When Models Are Systems, installation view. Photo by Adriana Hamui.

Listen to the When Models Are Systems playlist on Spotify