M-F: de 10:00 a 14:00 hrs.
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LIGA, Space for Architecture is an independent platform founded in Mexico City in 2011 that promotes Latin American contemporary architecture through exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
Calle Doctor Erazo 176,
Col. Doctores, Del. Cuauhtémoc
CP 06720 Ciudad de México
M-F: de 10:00 a 14:00 hrs.
o por cita previa
For their exhibition at LIGA, Chilean researchers Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola are presenting, for the first time in Mexico, a summary of their investigation into the “genealogies” of systems of construction models in Chile during the years of socialism under Salvador Allende. An investigation that links architecture to social and cultural transformations, fruit of the geopolitical avatars of modernity.
The exhibition takes a starting point the project “Monolith Controversies,” an investigation undertaken for the Venice Biennale 2014, curated by Rem Koolhaas, as part of the section “Absorbing Modernity.” A hybrid object stood in the middle of the Pavilion of Chile: a concrete panel 3 x 3 m in height, produced by the KPD factory donated by the USSR to the city of Quipulé in Chile, to support the socialist government of Salvador Allende.
This concrete monolith, part an industrial product, part a monument to the present, was a symbol of the social and economic transformation of Chile through the mass construction of social housing. The model came from France, and had been invented as a cheap and efficient solution during the post-war reconstruction period in Europe. It was later adopted by the Soviet Union due to the housing shortage arising from the de-Stalinization process led by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Its third incarnation emerged in Cuba, where the system was readapted as the Soviet “Great Panel” in 1963, as the result of the donation of a concrete panel production factory to the regime of Fidel Castro. By means of these adaptations, the panel system finally reached the Chile of Salvador Allende, following a new donation of a KPD panel factory to support the Chilean people in the wake of the 1971 earthquake.
One of the first panels to be produced was signed by the hand of Allende himself, as a symbol of a new era, an example of modernization and new social policies for housing. Following the 1973 coup d’état, the factory switched direction and strategy, altering the path set out by the socialist wing. The wall, which was signed together with the Russian ambassador with the legend “Thank you Soviet and Chilean comrades,” was canceled out with a new layer, converting the social monolith into a traditional religious altar: the triumph of the conservative right over socialism and the burial alive of a moment loaded with hopes and airs of renewal. The factory continued operating, and the concrete panel would be assimilated into two politically antagonistic phases, representing its fourth and fifth interaction: the socialist KPD (1972) and the neoliberal VEP (1976).
For the exhibition, the two researchers make a recount through photographs of the history of the panel as a reflection of the architectural, political and cultural history of Chile, starting with a journey of several decades until its recovery and exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In the LIGA space a model of a “Matrioshka” building is on display, where the different interconnected systems of this model converge, with values of similarity and repetition, standardization and variation of an object, which is linked to technological, architectural, design, art, political and cultural processes.
In addition, drawings and press documents will be exhibited that accompanied the sociocultural process of Chile and the transformation of the city during the period of Salvador Allende. Finally, a previously unseen documentary will be shown that covers the whole process of the recent discovery and unveiling of the panel.
More than one hundred steel trays for electric cables are piled up to form an imperfect, twelve-sided cylinder in this proposal by the architects UMWELT, Ignacio García Partarrieu and Arturo Scheidegger. The artifact, of uncertain origin and uncanny presence, occupies the LIGA exhibition space to the point of collapse.
During a four day period, LIGA, Space for Architecture, Mexico City presented a series of consecutive one-minute-length exhibitions within the gallery space. For each exhibition, LIGA invited a Mexican architect or architectural studio.
It makes reference to the different options of spatial perception offered by the blurry reflection of the steel, the result of the thin sheet which leaves slight undulations in the surface. At the same time, it happens to recall the twenty installations that over the past five years, since LIGA was inaugurated in 2011, have occupied the gallery. The successive exhibitions have each left their mark on the space, like a kind of invisible preexisting structure. Observing Campodonico’s work with a little imagination allows us to look back over all the past simultaneous alternatives and, perhaps, some of those still to come.
The paper patterns are stretched between wooden frames and activated by the lighting and ventilation, which is controlled by interactive sensors. For the architect, these are manufacturing tests, experiments and prototypes where local knowledge, craftwork and traditional assemblages are linked with automatization, interactive systems and digital design processes. In this way, Haiek relates local skills with the global ecosystem, combining obsolete resources with applied technology. With the grace and ingenuity of an episode of “The Office,” the installation subverts the universe of the professional architect and transforms its everyday components—rolls of calculator paper, binder clips, paperclips or computer fans—into tools for poetry, criticism and resistance.
Spaces within Spaces
For his intervention at LIGA, Argentinian architect Diego Arraigada takes one of the most characteristic features of the gallery as a starting point: the two horizontal openings that connect it with its urban surroundings. Using a plain metal structure that connects the inner edges of both windows, the architect sets up a spatial short-circuit that renders superfluous the glass separating the exhibition space from the city itself. As if it were an ingenious Escher-like construction, the façade of the building folds in on itself and projects our gaze back out into the street.
Depending on the point of view, the ambiguous contraption hung between the two masonry walls can function at once as a tunnel or a bridge, as a space or as an object: a Moebius strip that confuses the interior with the exterior. In this way, with the use of a restrained, direct work of architecture that emerges from these specific conditions, Arraigada perforates the building and calls into question one of the basic premises of architecture: the definition of an inside and an outside.
RCJV’s proposal, A Room for Mexico City involves the construction of a space –a room– that floats inside of LIGA’s exhibition space. Placed inside this chamber is a unique and unpublished atlas: a book that gathers images of places, objects, elements and works that recreate the career of Ricardo Carvalho and Joana Vilhena throughout the years. “The Room is the Place of the Mind. In a small room one does not say what one would in a large room”. With this statement of Louis Kahn, RCJV discusses the construction of an everyday architecture that also happens in the present moment, carried out with light and ephemeral materials. The show is accompanied by texts written by architects Manuel Aires Mateus (POR) and Mauricio Pezo (CHL).
In conjunction with the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, LIGA inaugurates a double exhibition, simultaneously showcasing Portuguese studio RCJV in Mexico City and Mexican architectural firm MMX in Lisbon, Portugal.
MMX generates an insight on scale, content and frequency by multiplying the space of LIGA in the large second floor gallery of MUDE (Museum of Design and Fashion of Lisbon). LIGA could fit as many as thirty times within the 561 m2 of MUDE, which means that, taking size as the main reference, MUDE could feature the work of up to thirty architectural firms: the same physical volume that would be achieved after eight years of exhibition. MMX has installed a repetition of LIGA’s perimeter through vermillion fabrics tightly bound around metallic columns that created a diagonal field that saturated MUDE’s space. The geometrical and spatial attributes of each space create a dialogue with each other in order to explore the possibilities of content, establishing a new relational organization. The show is accompanied by a text written by anthropologist Pablo Landa (MEX).
As in all of Luis Aldrete’s projects, his intervention at LIGA starts from a deep interest in tangible objects, materials and experiences. The patio of his office in Guadalajara shows us the anonymous sources and references that are key elements that define a personal language, and the inclusion of physical memory is crucial in the materialization of his work.
At the gallery he uses plain formwork, earth, vegetation and mirrors, to submerge a small garden into the mass of earth: an architecture that is anchored deeply in an undeniable telluric condition, intimately related to a material universe. The access to this hidden oasis generates expectations, displacements and tensions that immerse us in a contemplative micro-universe. There, the infinite repetition produced by the mirrors creates an illusory space that reveals the spatial possibilities and sensibilities implicit in the daily world around us.
Opaque Sound is a project that consists of a robust wooden piece that occupies almost the entire gallery. The intrusive mass not only annuls the gallery space, but also obstructs, with its presence, the views to the inside. The volume (a spatial configuration recuperated from a previous project where it served as furniture in a public square) is literally embedded between floor and ceiling, thus impeding a clear definition of the real nature of this object. Between artifact, sculpture, architecture, found object, archeological find, or fallen meteorite, the excess of the introduced mass causes a disquieting confrontation with the space.
Chilean architect Eduardo Castillo, who was also educated as carpenter in his father’s workshop, explains: “I propose to occupy a gallery with opacity, with a wood structure measuring 2, 26 meters in height. Silent, scented and braced, half-way between a backwater and a hideout for gangs. It is not a work of art to be exhibited, but rather a space excessively occupied with a wood structure, temporarily boxed in with four wedges between earth and sky that, like in a Grimm tale, allows me to show the ability of transforming straw into gold.”
Permeability is a project that directly relates to the last publication by plan:b, which carries the same title. Giving the same status to the different formats of work, such as drawing, travel, model, construction or dialogue, Felipe and Federico Mesa understand their practice as a learning process, generating open situations, provisional agreements, non-imposing phenomena inserted into changing and flexible eco-social networks. Permeability, more than being a material, social and organic quality, is here a condition that allows for relational architecture, an architecture full of influences, obliged to the partial agreement and immersed in the flux of interactions and negotiations of everydayness.
The show expands and materializes the content of the book through projection of audiovisual materials that have been realized ex profeso for this installation. The register of light and sound phenomena (all recorded in different places) penetrate from the outside into the inside spaces. Their projection through reflecting filters in the LIGA gallery suggests that architecture emerges from an unequal meeting between light flows and the heavy movement of matter. For plan:b, architecture is pure permeability.
In her project House: Tree, Chocolate, Chimney, Izaskun Chinchilla turns the gallery space into the scene of a countryside birthday that celebrates housing, which, according to the architect, is millions of years old. Three edible cake-shaped models, on top of tables with cart wheels and tree trunks, are decorated with children’s motifs and lit with lamps that have organic shapes. Each cake represents different states of the treehouse, a metaphor Chinchilla uses to talk about the most natural and ancestral way of living. The festive installation communicates the essence of her architectural work: the relation of the house with the immediate environment, the responsibility of the architect-citizen in the construction of the city and the poorly-achieved sensorial spontaneity with which architects approach the theme of housing.
In spite of the bucolic environment that emanates from this ludic and colorful installation, the architecture signals with precision and clarity the urgent problematics of the actual crisis of the discipline— its disconnect from the user and the distrust of society towards the profession. Like Charles and Ray Eames, for Chinchilla “everything is architecture.” Inspired by the ubiquitous details of daily life, her work promotes an architecture engaged with professional innovation: a refreshing combination of new technologies and a search for primary and sensorial experiences.
An Environment centers on a method that is very common in the work of Adamo-Faiden: the creation of interstitial spaces that mediate between two different conditions. These environments physically recreate themselves through an installation with three video projectors, three transparent screens, a smoke machine and an extractor. The video projectors and screens are installed in such a way that photographic fragments of the studio’s work are shown in front of the three windows of the space. Over regular time lapses, the show fills with artificial smoke, substituting the clarity of the projected images with the materialization of the air confined between the walls of LIGA. When the space is filled with smoke, the extractor is activated and empties the space, making the slides shown on the screen visible again.
Addition Substraction is an intervention of piled up wood with which Jorge Ambrosi revisits the spatial forms of five recent residential projects. The work emphasizes tectonics, materiality and the strong interest in how things are assembled in construction, all of which stimulate Ambrosi’s research. It is an architectonic grammar in which different constructive elements are piled up with the logic and precision of mechanical engineering, generating tacit architectonic solutions of balanced proportions and mathematical modulations.
This installation invites the visitor to walk through the space, using movement to discover, approach, touch and feel the robust models of raw material. It also evokes a moment full of expectations, when primary matter arrives at the construction site and remains temporarily piled up, waiting for its confrontation with the terrain. The “act” or “action” of architecture happens in that moment, when the drawn traces start to orchestrate form and final position of those solids inside the projected whole. Just like Ambrosi’s work, the spatial intervention in LIGA happens in a serious and direct manner. The naked visibility of the constructive parts show architecture in its most intimate and unprotected form, inviting us to reflect on the assembly processes that define the nature of his work.
The Colombian studio Paisajes Emergentes has selected five projects developed for different cities, each of which responding to a concrete geography and distinct socio political conditions, but with one element in common: the hydrological phenomena. Paisajes Emergentes’ intervention exemplifies its interest in creating intangible phenomena and environments that are based in water, temperature, humidity, condensation… Elements that seem impossible to represent through traditional architectural means.
The title of the show suggests that the gallery is flooded with water that is contained in a hydrogel, which are minuscule spherical particles of a polymer normally used for agriculture, greenhouses and hydroponic farms, and that can absorb 150 times their own weight in water. This material allowed the architects to create a set of scale models inside a continuous aquatic landscape. The light projected from the lower part of the base generates a somnambulist light effect, characteristic for the studio. This light accelerates evaporation of the contained water and creates, throughout the exhibition space, a humidity similar to that of a greenhouse. The plants between the water particles activate the installation with live elements, introducing continuous and slow change in the scenery over the course of the exhibition.
Photos: Ramiro Chaves
For LIGA’s opening exhibition, the chilean-argentine studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen inserts a museum at a 1:10 scale into the exhibition space. Inside the twelve rooms of the imagined square space, using models and large scale drawings and photos, they show twelve projects illustrating the studio’s work.
These range from typological studies between art and architecture to built residential projects. No More No Less revisists notions of structural clarity, formal unity and typological repetition, all of which are present in the monolithic and enigmatic objects that compose their oeuvre. The representation of architecture in scale (through photos, models and 1:20 drawings) inside the “mother-model,” generates a double reduction that speaks to a problematic inherent to architecture: the exhibition as representation of an absent object and architecture itself as the representation of yet another thing.