Mauricio Rocha inherited the passion for construction from his father, the architect Manuel Rocha Diaz; from his mother, the famous photographer Graciela Iturbide, engaged in constant research on the anthropological aspects of the peoples of Mexico, he learned about the importance of understanding situations, different cultures, art and visual expressions.

Raised in a context full of stimuli, Mauricio Rocha (winner of a gold medal at the 11th Architecture Biennial of Mexico and first prize at the 17th edition of the prestigious Bienal Panamericana of Quito), with Gabriela Carrillo, approaches architectural design in a conscious, complex way, attempting “to provide a response to the place in which we live, our places, our economic and social situations.”

Their projects set out to “translate the traditions and materials of the places in which we operate in a contemporary way, not through fashionable forms or fireworks, but with silence, space, the experience of emptiness.” The value of emptiness is one of the reference points of their work, including the projects seen on these pages.

“In our case, the void is a perfect space for various things,” they say. “It is a space offered to users in a free way, but also the ideal place to test the potential of natural light in relation to architecture. Across the hours of the day, the shadows and nuances change; in emptiness, all of this becomes more vivid.”

The idea of the value of an ‘absent’ space, of capturing light and conveying it inside architecture, is one of the guiding values of the two projects selected for INTERNI. In the building for the studio of Graciela Iturbide in Coyoacán, the artists’ quarter in southwestern Mexico City, the new volume has three levels, standing out like a turret from the context of low buildings.

Exposed brick, a basic element of Mexican construction, is used here in a structural way, in the tension of a porous texture obtained by overlaps and interlocks. It is also used in an expressive, as an enclosure on all sizes for two full-height voids, opposite and symmetric, faced by internal glass facades.

The brick continues in the interiors in a compact form, closing the modular openings left by the alternation of full and empty zones of the outer screens, joining forces with beams, ceilings and floors all in natural wood. In the two high patios that contain the volume of the central studio with roof terrace, daylight produces constantly changing shadows, caressing the pattern of red bricks that seems compact in the portion at the ground, and becomes more porous, almost a mathematical screen, towards the top.

The project for the Criminal Courts for Oral Trials at Pátzcuaro, in the state of Michoacán, is a new architectural complex with an oval enclosure in local volcanic stone containing the various courtrooms.

On a single level in a zone without neighboring buildings, the courthouse and its monolithic stone wall, marked by vertical openings for access, determine a precise scheme, where within the alternation of constructions and open spaces, with two central courtrooms clad in wood that create a patio between them, an architectural landscape is organized in terms of horizontal bands.

The design responds to the functional requirements of the architectural organism, while expressing “transparency, equality, democracy, justice and dignity. And, not lastly, a sense of belonging to the context, the culture, the society.” Along the oval wall a system of circulation and staircases has been created to connect the various levels of the internal space, which adapts to the topography of the lot.

Transparent glass alternates with brick walls made like perforated screens, and sunscreens add rhythm to the fronts of the five pavilions with sloping roofs and paths of connection facing grassy areas.

The open zones between the buildings are seen as landscape opportunities, with long, narrow gardens flanked by shady outdoor passages paved in stone running along the full length of the pavilions, constituting part of the longitudinal platforms on which all the workspaces are organized.

In a central position, the two regular, compact volumes of the courtrooms stand out with their metal structure and wooden cladding, both outside and inside, where the light penetrates thanks to a continuous open band inserted prior to the ground seam, making the wooden enclosures seem to float.

Photos Adlai Pulido and Rafael Gamo / courtesy by TALLER de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha – Gabriela Carrillo
Article Matteo Vercelloni

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Iturbide Studio. View from inside one of the levels of the studio of the photographer Graciela Iturbide towards one of the patios that separate it from the urban space. Photos by Rafael Gamo.
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Iturbide Studio. The material continuity of exposed brick inside and outside, alternating full zones and gaps of missing bricks (photo by Rafael Gamo).
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Iturbide Studio. One of the streetfronts. Photos by Adlai Pulido.
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Iturbide Studio. Longitudinal section.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. Plan of the architectural complex.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. The space between the two courtrooms clad in wood, and the connection with a wall of bricks arranged to create a sunscreen system. Photos by Rafael Gamo.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. The interior of the workspaces. Photos by Rafael Gamo.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials.View of one of the shaded paths beside the courthouse pavilions, and one of the entrances from the elliptical wall in volcanic stone.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. Interior of a courtroom.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. One of the office pavilions with its sloping roof.
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Criminal Courts for Oral Trials. The path of connection between the two courtrooms.