Light and Space: an encounter with God

--Originally published at Identidad digital

NOTE: While I was studying my bachelor degree I developed a project based in Tadao Ando’s Azuma house and the theory of “Phenomenon of space” developed by Norberg Schulz. Unfortunately I no longer possess any images of the project I mention however I consider the following essay an interesting exercise, hence I decided to publish it on this site.

Light and Space: an encounter with God

“The creation of space in architecture is simply the condensation and purification of the power of light”.                                                                               Tadao Ando

Based on the theory of the Phenomenon of Space written by Christian Norberg-Schulz I developed a project that will work as a tool to have a deeper encounter with God that will be reached with light and dimensions.

Norberg-Schulz states that architecture cannot be “measured” by scientific methods, architecture has as many variables as everyday life has, in fact they are very related, each space created is designed for certain purpose and this places are quite different and unique; they have a specific character. People have tried to see architecture with a scientific approach, however that may not be the most appropriate scheme because science tries to reach a neutral answer, by doing it the matter of study is synthesized and some variables are lost, in the case of architecture, these are the base of its meaning. Literature and language have been helpful elements to approach everyday life and architecture, but a phenomenology of place could work better. Architecture is about places that have character and meaning, each place is different, for example: a temple has to be solemn.

As we can observe architecture is not only about the physical appearance, it is the experience perceived not only by the sight but the other four senses too, architecture has to make people feel something. Based on Norberg schulz’s theory I developed a project that consists on creating a space that will work as a resource to have a closer meeting with God, he is everywhere, off course, but the character of this place leads the user to a more vivid experience, because all the senses perceive certain elements that reminds them that the human being has always felt the need of believing in something bigger, in an all mighty creator responsible of all the marvelous things that surround us and that cannot be explained easily.

The most important thing of this place is not the physical place but the feelings that it evokes in the user, as Peter Zumthor observes in Barragán’s architecture: “Barragán’s house is a potent reminder that what is truly important is nothing like so tangible, but has to do rather with the qualities of sanctuary, surprise and visual comfort.” (Zumthor, 2002) The intention of this place is precisely to make the user feel a connection with God. The place is planned to be a one-to-one meeting, this encounter will lead the users to be in touch with themselves.

The space is based in the Azuma house by Tadao Ando, it is divided in three sections of 4.7 meters each. My project maintains that rhythm, and its proportions are based in multiples of three. It consist in three volumes, the first one in 10 m tall and a door of three meters, it has no windows. The second one has several windows of .30 x 4.7, and the last one has a window formed by a vertical line and a horizontal line.

With the help of light and dimensions I wanted to create a certain atmosphere in the space. When people enter to the place they feel tiny and lost, because of dimensions and the absence of light, when they walk and get to the second volume they are able to see a bit of light and the volume is lower, which decreases the feeling of being worthless and tiny and in the third one people are able to find light in God.

In this project light and dimensions have an important role, because with these elements users will feel certain emotions that give the space a meaning. This space is not only perceived though the eyes but also with all the senses.



“Luis Barragan.” Luis Barragan. N.p., 2002. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <;.

“Architectural Design.” Tadao Ando – Architectural Design. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <;.

Nesbitt, Kate (Editor). 1996. “Theorizing a New Agenda

for Architecture. An Anthology of Architectural Theory”.

New York: Princeton Architectural Press.


More than architecture

--Originally published at Identidad digital

Through the history of knowledge the definition of space has changed, several philosophers such as Wilhelm Leibniz, René Descartes, Aristotle, and Immanuel Kant have proposed different meanings for such concept. Mathematicians have also contributed to define space, they speak of space in a mathematical language, and they have achieved to classify it quite precisely, the problem is that mathematicians have define it in a theoretical and mathematical way that does not relate much to the space experienced and lived by society, is with this problematic that philosophers enter again to the existence space issue. Philosophers have drawn upon other branches of knowledge, as an aid to solve the problem epistemology emerged, “[…] Epistemology has inherited and adopted the notion that the status of space is that of a “mental thing” or a “mental place” (Lefebvre 1974).

Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect, educated in America and influenced by the five architects, is worldwide known for his work with paper. One of his most important works with this material are the emergency shelters for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this project was made in 1994 for the Rwandan refugees that lost their homes due to the genocide and civil war. This project is especially relevant in various ways:  the techniques and materials used the place as a representation of hope for the people that had lost everything and the query if the places created should be considered homes or fake places. The construction of these places went further than just creating mass asylums; shelters were made with a humanitarian focus. The shelters should be considered a real space and must be classified as heterotopias.

Rwanda’s 1994 civil war left more than 2 million people homeless; refugees required a shelter and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees supplied aluminum poles and plastic sheets as resources to create temporary dwelling. The refugees used the aluminum poles and branches as structural support; this leaded to contribute with the grave deforestation suffered in the region, the situation was critical. Ban suggested using paper tubes to remediate the circumstances, and the use of these materials instead of branches did not affect the deforestation problem, were easily found and handled and served as structural support for the construction of simple shelters consisting of paper tubes and blue tarps.  The UNHCR accepted the proposal and after some tests approved the prototype.

Leibniz stated that space “itself” is neither nothing nor something; to know if space is something we have to introduce an origin and axes, these two elements give direction and orientation. This direction and orientation are given to the space by bodies that occupy it. The shelters posses’ direction and orientation, the asylums have certain boundaries (floor, wall, and ceiling) that denote that they work as spaces. The ancient greeks stated that boundary is that from which something begins its presence, having a presence denotes that something exists; hence, it can be conclude that the shelters work as spaces.

Assuming that shelters are spaces, now it can be discussed if these places can be called “homes”. In the other hand there is a concept called heterotopias, according to Teyssot (1997) Foucault establishes some characteristics of heterotopias:

(1) Though they assume a wide variety of forms, heterotopias are a constant feature of all cultures. (2) Over the course of its history, a society may take an existing heterotopia and make it function in a different way. (3) The heterotopia has the power of juxtaposing in a single real place different spaces and locations that are incompatible with each other. (4) Heterotopias are linked to time, entering fully into function when traditional time is breached (as in, for example, the cemetery, where the loss of life and the perception of eternity coincide). (5) One does not usually enter a heterotopia by one’s own will (think of the prison), and, as a visitor by force or permission, one must perform certain gestures only to be still excluded from its true heart. (6) Heterotopias perform the contradictory functions of revealing the illusory quality of all space and compensating for that illusion with a perfect,      meticulous, and well-arranged real space.

The materials used to build these places are not typical materials used for creating houses; the particularity of the materials used is that they are seen as ephemeral matter because paper is not known for its resistance and durability, usually homes are created with “stronger” materials because houses are thought to last for a long time. The shelters’ main purpose is to work as a place to protect people from the environment but the refugees have given the shelter another meaning; the shelter works as a home for them, as a place where they can find peace and faith.

These places will not exist forever; they are temporary places that serve as dwelling for the refugees. They did not decide to live in that shelter; they were forced to inhabit such place because they had lost their real homes. If they rearrange the place and introduce certain details the semiotics behind them will transport the users to the idea that they are at home. In fact, semiotics play quite an important role in this situation because society has embraced an ideology, “Ideology has the social function of maintaining the overall structure of society by introducing men to accept in their consciousness the place and role assigned to them […] (Agres and Gandelsosonas)”  they acquire this ideology by different means and through their whole lives. Architecture is a whole system of signs and by reproducing certain signs an idea will be transferred to the society. In this case semiotics will contribute to create an idea and opinion about the place inhabited, which will derive in the signification that is pretend to give to the asylums.

Human beings had always questioned their existence and their surroundings, people have tried to look for a definition of abstract and complicated concepts such as space, from those concepts many others may derive. The human being is not only concerned in that type of studies, society has other kind of issues, such as dwelling and humanitarian sense. When a society is needy people have done certain activities to help them such as the case of the Rwandan refugees of 1994. Shelters were provided to help them. The shelters for the refugees may not be precisely what is called a home but the people that inhabit them have given the space a different meaning, for these people the place represented that not everything is lost, that they can still believe in hope and in the human race.

With the word “home” many ideas, memories, scents, images come to our heads, each one has experienced their homes in a different way. What all those definitions have in common is that home is more than a place, is a certain friendly atmosphere that contains elements that make you feel comfortable and alludes the feeling of belonging somewhere.

We can only have one home; actually the world can be divided in two:  the home and all the places that are not our home. People can feel homelike in other places that are not theirs, for example the emergency shelters, in such place users can feel cozy there but these will never be what it pretends to be. They are not precisely the user’s homes’ but they work as one, they are what is called an “heterotopia” because these asylums will eventually stop existing, they emerged as an alternative to create dwelling for people that had lost everything, but they will not last long. They serve as something they are not. Even though the asylums are not homes they posses something special  due to the interaction between the inhabitants, the space, the semiotics and the architects’ purpose the shelter has conceived a certain meaning that goes beyond a place to protect people from the environment, Ban has re-signified the consign, he aimed to create a certain atmosphere; Ban’s humanitarian purpose change the place since its conception, as he mentions: “to work for each and every human being is the mission of the living architect (Ban, 2009)”.  He has the strong desire to improve people’s life by creating architecture that comes from the heart.



         Nesbitt, Kate. Theorizing a new agenda for architecture: an anthology of architectural theory: 1965-1995. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996.

         Lefebvre, Henri. The production of space. Oxford, OX, UK: Blackwell, 1991. Print.Heterotopias and the History of Spaces- Georges Teyssot

         The ethical Function of architecture- karsten Harries


         “Spotlight on Design – Shigeru Ban interview – YouTube.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. 13. Nov. 2012. <;.

         “The emergency architecture of Shigeru Ban – YouTube.” YouTube. 13. Nov. 2012. <;.

Cuestión de talla, no contexto

--Originally published at Identidad digital

La arquitectura de un lugar mucho depende de diferentes factores entre ellos la tecnología, contexto y materiales.

Debido a los adelantos tecnológicos la forma en la que se crea arquitectura se ha modificado. Desde hace un poco más de cien años se han utilizado materiales y tecnologías que favorecen la creación de estructuras de gran escala, esas a las que llamamos- como diría Koolhaas- edificios grandes, aquellos que parecen multiplicarse por todas partes del globo, que son similares a pesar de estar en contextos sociales, políticos y climatológicos muy disimiles.

Dichas masas, debido a su magnitud y la falta de criticismo en su concepción han sido espacios que se pretenden tratar como cualquier tipo de arquitectura. Sin embargo las mismas estructuras dictan lo contrario, los edificios grandes salen de proporción, las escaleras ya no son lo más factible en cuestión de circulaciones, la ciudad se vuelve un mero contenedor con poca relación con el edificio, se crea una identidad extraña, mezclada. Intentando encajar o no en el contexto de una ciudad y crear espacios adecuados para su uso en el interior.

Como menciona Koolhaas en su escrito “Delirio de Nueva York” los edificios entran en un ámbito amoral debido a su tamaño, su impacto no depende de su calidad.

Soy partidaria de la utilización de la tecnología para mejorar la vida, la arquitectura, la ciudad sin embargo pareciera que los adelantos tecnológicos y la capacidad crítica de la mente de los aquellos responsables de los edificios no van a la par, pareciera que aún no está resuelta de manera adecuada la relación entre integración y concentración.

Nos queda preguntarnos y proponer soluciones para crear arquitecturas integrales, flexibles pero con carácter. Pensar en cómo solucionar los edificios y crear o modificar aquella disciplina que se encargue de proponer resultados coherentes respecto a la concentración e integración.

Coherencia, forma nueva y vida nueva ¿Cómo deben ser los interiores de una espacio para que exista una correspondencia coherente entre forma y vida?

--Originally published at Identidad digital

A partir de cambios sustanciales en la sociedad, la industria y en general la manera de vivir, durante el modernismo se plantean nuevas teorías y formas de diseñar y percibir la arquitectura. Debido a dicho cambio surge la necesidad de generar diseños, específicamente de interiores y mobiliario de tal manera que respondan y se adapten a la nueva forma de vida.

El arraigado gusto por el academicismo impidió se generaran soluciones adecuadas, que mantuvieran un vínculo entre el diseño interior de la arquitectura y su exterior. Como resultado de esta falta de sensibilidad los diseñadores y la industria no llegan a tener contacto alguno. Esto genera productos carentes de soluciones adecuadas y artistas dedicados al arte por el arte, a una vida ficticia y una estética estéril.

El artesano es sustituido por la máquina. Surge una oportunidad para que arquitectos y diseñadores realicen diseños teniendo en mente el potencial de las máquinas sin menospreciar la relación de éste con la economía y la estética, lo cual, de acuerdo con Lina Bo, exige simplicidad de formas y acabados coherentes. Dicha oportunidad da pauta para generar expresiones artísticas de cierta autenticidad y sin regresiones sentimientales.

Lina Bo abogaba por un cambio en diseño de mobiliario e interiores que vayan de acuerdo con los planteamientos del modernismo, escribiendo en la revista Domus el artículo ‘Disposición de los espacios interiores’ hace notar la incoherencia de introducir detalles con diseños marcados por el academicismo a espacios que poco tienen que ver con planteamientos del viejo mundo cuya filosofía de diseño es completamente distinta a lo que el ser humano de esa nueva época necesita.

A pesar que dicho artículo fue escrito el siglo pasado en la actualidad dicha problemática sigue viva y latente. Muchos insisten en traer al presente reminiscencias que poco responden al clima, la sociedad, el entorno y las necesidades de los seres que vivimos en 2018. Se insite en crear sin ser crítico ni sensible a la realidad.

Los habitantes y diseñadores siguen indiferentes a la realidad de la situación.


Diseño en México y miedo a equivocarse

--Originally published at Identidad digital

Durante mis cinco años de carrera y desde hace tiempo atrás me sudan las manos y el corazón late más fuerte cuando se trata de expresar una de mis ideas.

El enfrentarme a la crítica me da pavor. Siento como el espacio se llena de juicios. Quisiera no estar presente en el momento de la crítica.

La crítica, la que corta más que una navaja afilada, la que lastima el ego.

Considero que la crítica como tal no es mala pero hay que ser lo suficientemente sensibles para saber cómo y en qué momento expresarla

Con la crítica viene el saber del error. En mi educación mexicana el error es castigado. Las miradas agresivas con un poco de lástima y pena ajena te juzgan generando un sentimiento de culpa por haber cometido el error.

A veces se aprende del error a veces hay que recurrir varias veces a él para entender.

Está bonita la idea de dejar que los jóvenes y los no tan jóvenes puedan equivocarse cuantas veces quieran sin que nada pase ¿pero hasta dónde está bien equivocarse?

Como seres sociales vivimos en comunidades, nuestras acciones repercuten de alguna  otra manera, en un nivel u otro en la vida de la gente que nos rodea.

Como diseñadxres y arquitectxs tenemos responsabilidades con la sociedad, con el mundo. Un error puede afectar el desarrollo de otro humano, su experiencia, sus rituales.

¿Hasta dónde es permisible equivocarse? ¿Cuándo y bajo qué condiciones? ¿bajo qué contexto?