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Organic Architecture Comes to the National Museum of Architecture

Javier Senosiain's organic architecture combines organic elements with human needs
By The News · 09 of September 2016 14:08:24
Javier Senosiain's "Prismatic Pair" which sits next to the National Cineteca in Xoco, No available, photo: The News/Andrea Penman-Lomeli

Juxtaposed against the brutal Mexico City streets in the Historic Center, Javier Senosiain’s designs seem utopian and unattainable, impossibly distant from our reality. But then again, they sit scattered around the city, very much a part of its landscape.

Despite Frank Lloyd Wright being the first to have coined the term “organic architecture,” the Mexican architect Javier Senosiain has brought organic architecture to the forefront through his writing and designs. He designs, as he explains, attempt to create harmony between humans and nature, attending to human’s physical and psychological needs. In his architecture the lines between nature and the built environment are blurred as he re-articulates spaces with natural and organic analogies. In his book, “Bio-Architecture”, he explains his use of the analogical method, a process in which one borrows from forms which do not belong to the architectural world — animals, the human body, and nature — and converts them into forms in the built environment.

Javier Senosiain's

Javier Senosiain’s designs on display at the National Museum of Architecture. Photo: The News/Andrea Penman-Lomeli

Some of his designs, like “Prismatic Pair,” are sober, modern, and crisp scapes in which light is the only anticipated accessory. Filled with tension, yet painted in bright colors, these buildings make nods to Mexican architect Luis Barragán. It would be easy for the designs to evince a sort of coldness; however, the spaces are filled and surrounded by natural elements. In “Floating Pyramid,” an inverted pyramid emerges intimately from the soil to cover a lot in front of Los Remedios National Park. The building, which also features a roof garden, sits on only three percent of the lot area, allowing grass to cover a foothill that enters the structure.

The Shell House

The inside of “The Nautilus” by Javier Senosiain. Photo: Flickr/James Vaugn

In others, the designs are more whimsical and take on rounded and playful forms. Senosiain often favors curvature, and says that curves are more natural and harmonious. In some instances, like the “Organic House” built in 1985 in Naucalpan, the associations with the womb are difficult to avoid. The concave shapes of the house impregnate the earth and roll in and out of the already present hills. Regardless of the form of his designs, he uses color and materials to fit his buildings into the vernacular of the space, so that even when the form does not incorporate distinctly organic elements, it speaks to a place’s culture and history. He takes a place-based approach, always considering both the natural elements of a space — the shape of the earth, and the plants and animals endemic to the region — and the human aspect — the culture and history — in order to fully integrate his design into a given space.

Ultimately, his designs are an interrogation of the architectural process. His work resists imposition and instead celebrates a sort of facilitation of both the built and natural spheres, promoting a synergistic relationship between both.

The exhibit features photographs, sculptures, and models that document over 44 years of work with 32 different designs.

The exhibit runs from Sept. 9 to Feb. 12 in the National Museum of Architecture in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Entrance is 60 pesos and the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.