- Sustainable Architecture
- ARACHI, a new hangout thanks to the Taller del Desierto workshop
Taller del Desierto is a summer workshop organised by the Institute of Architecture and Design of Chihuahua (ISAD) with the purpose of tangibly improving the quality of life of people who live here. This year's workshop, headed by the Spanish architects from ENORME Studio with the locally-based architects Juan Castillo and Miguel Heredia involved a small park in the heart of the Santa Cecilia neighbourhood. This outdoor square is where a range of groups and associations meet; their interests may be different but their needs converge. On the one hand, a group of mothers, children and girls from the Umbral Umbral Foundation who want to become Mariachi dancers, following in the footsteps of the settlement founders. On the other, the parishioners who continue construction of the church of Santa Cecilia, already in use but still unfinished. Then there are the community elders who have become the caretakers of the park and who also need an outdoor space, preferably shaded.
With all of this in mind, the workshop kicked off with a participatory planning process involving the neighbourhood and the park's users; the goal was to build not only a physical place but also a collective vision of the future. The common need that emerged from the community discussions was for a large, shaded meeting place that could accommodate a range of outdoor activities.
The end result was the project for the ARACHI or urban Alebrije. Alebrijes are imaginary, fantastical creatures that feature elements from different animals. The brightly coloured Alebrijes were originally created by Pedro Linares Lopez using papier-mâché but nowadays they also encompass Oaxaca wood carvings, made famous by Manuel Jiménez (1919-2005). This whole concept informs the architecture here, which is the output of the collective imagination.
This large canopy embraces all the neighbourhood's communities and wishes, first and foremost as protection from the sun. To this end, ENORME Studio con Juan Castillo and Miguel Heredia worked with 'popular' Mexican iconographies during the workshop; these included, of course, the Alebrijes, the symbols that define the mariachis, as well as the traditional costumes of the Rarámuris or Tarahumara women, natives to the Sierra de Chihuahua.
The workshop students were behind the entire construction process, aided by the locals who volunteered their labour and supported in particular by the kids from the district. These children arranged the layout of the furniture and painted it with the typical brightly coloured stripes, zig-zags and diagonal patterns of the Alebrijes geometric paintwork.
With such a cohesive combination of hard work and energy, the end result could only be something magical. ARACHI is a point of reference in the park, a crossroads, a place which the whole community can use to get together and engage. A place that the locals have been entrusted to look after, a way of making sure that the bond between structure and users also continues in the long-term.
Project: Taller del Desierto / ARACHI
Location: Colonia Santa Cecilia. Chihuahua, México.
Developer: ISAD [Instituto de Arquitectura y Diseño de Chihuahua] / www.isad.edu.mx/
Workshop leaders: ENORME Studio / www.enormestudio.es
Local advisors: Miguel Heredia / Juan Castillo
Workshop participants: Alexa Baca / Jesús Córdova / Luisa González / Nancy Guzmán / Arish Lara / Jonathan Olivas / Diana Ortiz / Abril Vázquez / Tania J. Castillo / Ariel Rosas / Jaheel Araiza / Julio Pérez / Denisse Salgado / Jessica Ortega / Danya L. Estrada / Diana Carolina Flores / Karen Araceli / Regina Ramírez / Valeria Pomian
Supporting Associations: Fundación Umbral / Fundación A+bien
Video: ENORME Studio + Horacio Manriquez / Taller del Norte
Photos: ENORME Studio