@Mextropoli Festival (1st Prize)
"La comida, más que las especulaciones místicas, es una manera segura de acercarse a un pueblo y a su cultura" Octavio Paz.
The Complejo Cultural Los Pinos, once the Mexican presidential house, from September 2021 to March 2022 became the context for Gastronomic Palapa - a temporary polysemic place - a temporary pavilion design for Mextropoli 2020 in Alameda Central and then built there one year later due to the pandemic.
A public chillies dryer A convivial cathedral of sounds, smells and colours A collective mesa at the urban scale
The pavilion is mainly composed of two parts: a triangulated support structure and a playful accumulation of evolving, changeable organic elements. Completely filled with Chiles Secos and red Zacates, it forms an inverted thatched roof that acts as a communal palapa.
The infrastructure draws indeed inspiration from vernacular Mexican palapas, yet it introduces a clear directionality that recalls the spatial organisation of certain spiritual places: after a compressed - both in height (2.60 m) and width (3.20 m) - entrance, the interiors of this urban chapel rise constantly, towards a relatively tall (6.80 m) and large (9.00 m of diameter) circular apsis, that culminates in a central oculus. It is not constructed with traditional materials like wood and straw, but using just one type of steel angle profile (3x3 inches) - mostly as a simple “V”, or paired as a “T” for the main structure and as an “X” for the legs and the spine.
The pavilion covers an area of 108sqm2. The chillies knotted together define a variegated cloister where glimmers of light draw geometric and organic shadows on the ground, inviting the visitor to enter and experience this multi-sensorial enfilade. The interiors are painted in bright red, while the exteriors are characterised by a quieter grey: this is the main perceptual form of hierarchy for an otherwise very porous space, in strong continuity with its surroundings. There is a series of tables, conceived as overflowing tongues - sticking out from the narrow openings. These three bright red mesas (tables) act as bridges to connect interior and exterior, as privileged surfaces to linger, indulge, look through the colourful beams and to be in direct contact with thousands of edible assemblages.
Gastronomic Palapa performed as a public pantry. It contained rows of hung zacates – more than 1500 – and threads of chiles secos – almost 11000!. These were its main material elements, the ones which constructed its edible iconographical apparatus. Throughout the days, the chillies became brittle when touched and their seeds were heard inside when shaken. Some of them kept on drying, others were sheltered yet partially exposed to the weather: these processes triggered a series of time-based transformations throughout the months, providing unexpected colours, textures and smells - turning the ceiling of the pavilion into a living architectural compound.
The pavilion has just been dismantled and it’s waiting to be re-constructed in a different place in Mexico City. It will again act as an urban pantry or dryer, sheltering new organic, edible fragments. Its assembling and disassembling will always be participatory acts, naturally happening as gigantic collective banquets.
Its main aim is to stimulate people's inventiveness, to become a stage set for spontaneous performances, rather than being a static pavilion that visitors can just contemplate. Gastronomic Palapa wants to delineate a truly interactive, polysemic space, that internalises and augments multiple degrees of publicness. It is an alive shelter to foster instinctive behaviours and to re-write daily, bodily gestures, re-connecting them with unconventional architectural components and materials. It is an architecture to be appropriated and to be bodily consumed.
Designed and curated by
Photos and Videos