Monday, April 20, 2009


Our friends from Rojkind Arquitectos just send us images of their recently finished building. it is a lab for Neslte in Queretaro Mexico after their first collaboration for the chocolate museum which was widely covered by the media.

This new project had another challenges to beat: the center of Querétaro is a World Heritage declared by the UNESCO on 1996, because of this, the restrictions to build in the city in general are quite though regarding the use of certain architectural elements. The new building most have an Arched Entrance.

Rojkind re-interpeted both the concept of the arch and the concept of the entrance for this industrial project, a series of segmented domes (which are nothing but repeated arches) was proposed as excavations which guide you into the space of the building which is mainly an orthogonal shape covered in a satin-finished windows.

while the exterior is in appearance opaque and "metallic" in the interior of this laboratories, the scientist and their white robes float in a sequence of yellow, green and blue spaces.

As in previous projects, Rojkind paid attention to the skill of the local workforce and rather than fabricating the domes and finishes by a digital fabrication process, he figured out the best geometrical and easiest way to build the "foamy" space by using steel concentric rings


Program: Laboratories, Offices, Auditorium, Tasting Area.
Design Year: 2007
Completion Year: 2009
Architectural Project: Rojkind Arquitectos, Michel Rojkind (principal), Agustin Pereryra, Paulina Goycochea (project leaders), Moritz Mechert, Tere Levy, Issac Smeke, Tomaz Kristoff, Francisco Gordillo, Andres Altesor, Juan Pablo Espinosa (project team).
Construction: SLCI ENGINEER / Jose Solis
Facade Engineering: VYCISA
Structural Engineer: Juan Felipe Heredia
Furniture: ESRAWE DISEÑO / Arne Quinze
Photos: Paul Rivera /

*images courtesy of Rojkind Arquitectos, all rights reserved

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gangs of Kabukicho by Watanabe Katsumi

I found the post about Watanabe Katsumi on The Moment blog, really liked the imagery and wanted to share it with you...

Despite recent attempts at gentrification, Kabukicho in the East Shinjuku section of Tokyo remains the city’s seedy underbelly. In the event that it ultimately goes the sanitized way of 42nd Street, the photographer Watanabe Katsumi’s book, “Gangs of Kabukicho” (D.A.P.), is a divinely decadent chronicle of the area’s hostess-bar and yakuza heyday.

Watanabe, who died of stomach cancer in 2006, was an itinerant who made a measly living — during one low point he gave up photography altogether and sold sweet potatoes on the sidewalks — shooting the dissolute denizens of Kabukicho, including the “blue-light” district’s many drag queens, prostitutes and gangsters. (Watanabe would photograph his subjects and return the following evening to deliver the prints, for which he received a small fee.)

Most of the black and white photographs in “Gangs of Kabukicho” were originally printed in a tiny 1972 self-published book and later shown in Watanabe’s only exhibition, in 1986. These effortlessly stylish images caught the attention of the New York gallerist Andrew Roth, who flew to Tokyo to meet with the photographer weeks before his death. “Watanabe was not well known at all,” says Roth, who is now the caretaker of the Watanabe estate, “but, by their own admission, Japanese photography stars like Keizo Kitajima, Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama are all indebted to him. Hopefully this book shows that Japanese street photography did not start with the current interest in Harajuku and gives Watanabe the recognition he did not enjoy in life.”

“Gangs of Kabukicho” by Watanabe Katsumi is distributed by D.A.P. and is available at and

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Go Slow Movement spreading fast

It all started with slow food, a movement "that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world." But it is a meme that has caught on, the idea that you take it slow, do it carefully, do it right and take the time to enjoy it. The idea can be applied to almost anything we do in life, and become a trend spreading from Italy to UK, Canada and elsewhere.

We can now find Slow Cars, Slow Fashion, Slow Design, Slow Flying, Slow Travel, Slow Cities and Slow Homes.

Slow Cities is an outgrowth of the slow food movement and like it, started in Italy. According to Der Spiegel, "Slow City" advocates argue that small cities should preserve their traditional structures by observing strict rules: cars should be banned from city centers; people should eat only local products and use sustainable energy. In these cities, there's not much point in looking for a supermarket chain or McDonald's.
Slow Cities are cities which:
1. Implement an environmental policy designed to maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric, placing the onus on recovery and reuse techniques.
2. Implement an infrastructural policy which is functional for the improvement, not the occupation, of the land.
3. Promote the use of technologies to improve the quality of the environment and the urban fabric.
4. Encourage the production and use of foodstuffs produced using natural, eco-compatible techniques, excluding transgenic products, and setting up, where necessary, presidia to safeguard and develop typical products currently in difficulty, in close collaboration with the Slow Food Ark project and wine and food Presidia.
5. Safeguard autocthonous production, rooted in culture and tradition, which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers and purveyors.
6. Promote the quality of hospitality as a real bond with the local community and its specific features, removing the physical and cultural obstacles which may jeopardize the complete, widespread use of a city's resources.
7. Promote awareness among all citizens, and not only among inside operators, that they live in a Slow City, with special attention to the of young people and schools through the systematic introduction of taste education.
Architect John Brown proposes the Slow Home. "Suburban sprawl is like fast food; cheap and easy but also unsatisfying and boring." says the intro Slow Home, which says "takes its name from the slow food movement which arose as a reaction to the processed food industry. In the same ways that slow food helps people learn how to become more familiar and involved with the food they eat, Slow Home provides design focused information to empower individuals to step beyond the too fast world of cookie cutter housing. "
He provides ten steps (listed bellow) to find the true slow home, including Go Local, Go Green, Go Small and Go Simple. The Annie House in Austin, Texas by Bercy Chen Studio is a good example.
From Brown's description of the the house: The house is located in South Austin on a small infill lot. It was built for two families and therefore is split into two living areas. The house consists of two pavilions connected by a glass hallway. The house is a certified city of Austin green building project and scored 3 stars out of the highest possible 5 star rating. Sustainable principles of design are incorporated throughout.

The house is constructed of a modular steel frame. The frame is infilled with prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction on site waste. The structural frame is exposed, showing the construction process and articulating the house’s facades. The repetitive modular method as well as the prefabrication allows for greater efficiency during construction. The 2nd floor in one of the pavilions is a viereendeel truss which acts like a bridge and minimizes the number of vertical structural supports in the 1st floor.

Ten Steps for better housing by John Brown:

Avoid homes by big developers and large production builders. They are designed for profit not people. Work with independent designers and building contractors instead.
Avoid home finishing products from big box retailers. The standardized solutions they provide cannot fit the unique conditions of your home. Use local retailers, craftspeople, and manufacturers to get a locally appropriate response and support your community.
Stop the conversion of nature into sprawl. Don’t buy in a new suburb. The environmental cost can no longer be justified. Re-invest in existing communities and use sustainable materials and technologies to reduce your environmental footprint.
Reduce your commute. Driving is a waste of time and the new roads and services required to support low density development is a big contributor to climate change. Live close to where you work and play.
Avoid the real estate game of bigger is always better. A properly designed smaller home can feel larger AND work better than a poorly designed big one. Spend your money on quality instead of quantity.
Stop living in houses filled with little rooms. They are dark, inefficient, and don’t fit the complexity of our daily lives. Live in a flexible and adaptive open plan living space with great light and a connection to outdoors.
Don’t buy a home that has space you won’t use and things you don’t need. Good design can reduce the clutter and confusion in your life. Create a home that fits the way you really want to live.
Avoid fake materials and the re-creation of false historical styles. They are like advertising images and have little real depth. Create a home in which character comes from the quality of space, natural light and the careful use of good, sustainable materials.
Avoid living in a public health concern. Houses built with cheap materials off gas noxious chemicals. Suburbs promote obesity because driving is the only option. Use natural, healthy home materials and building techniques. Live where you can walk to shop, school and work.
Stop procrastinating. The most important, and difficult, step in the slow home process is the first one that you take. Get informed and then get involved with your home. Every change, no matter how small, will make a difference.
Check also:
- The Slow Way to go, by Alastair Sawday
- Life at a Snail Pace, 1-day try of a 'slow-go' by Jess Cartner-Morley


As in the introduction of the FLASH short movie "EPIC 2015" said: It is the best of times, it is the worst of times....
now it’s probably not the safest moment to declare yourself a pirate, whether you sail the high seas or traffic in illegal downloads on the Internet. On Friday, four Swedish men (Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom) connected with the file-sharing Web site the Pirate Bay were each sentenced by a Stockholm district court to one year in prison and ordered to pay fines totaling about $3.57 million following their convictions on copyright charges, Reuters reported. Several entertainment conglomerates, including Warner Brothers, Sony BMG and Universal were also seeking damages relating to the illegal trading of copyrighted material on the Web site. Despite the facts that half of the accusations had to be drop because of lack of evidence; The men said that they could not be held responsible for the piracy because they do not store copyrighted material on their servers. A statement posted on the Pirate Bay site after the sentencing said: “But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing hollywood ever taught us.”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rojkind Criticizes Bicentennial project

"when was the last time a Modern and Illustrated State built an Arch or any other type of self-celebration monument?" asked the team composed by Michel Rojkind + Alejandro Hernandez + Arturo Ortiz in their presentation for their submission for the "Bicentennial Arch" in Mexico City.

Rojkind criticize like this the bicentennial project proposed by the local authorities of Mexico City, their proposal ordinates the vehicle traffic, expanded the green areas, would take 20 years to be built and will cost 200 million dollars.

It was suppose to be an Arch, but an arch built with 5 thousand social housing units on one of the main streets of Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. Michel Rojkind participated in the competition to commemorate the 200 years of the Independence of Mexico and betted to lose just to evidence the waste of resources (economical and intellectual) in an archaic project

"We bet to open a debate on the pertinence of building a commemorative monument"

"What are we going to celebrate? That the streets in the city are a chaos? That has been years since the last time there was a competition to do social housing in Mexico? That the people takes 3 hours to get to work? That the governors and political class, aiming to be remembered propose a project that will cost millions of pesos to execute it in a ridiculous time and closing Reforma and Circuito Interior (2 of the main avenues in Mexico City)?" Rojkind asks.

Rojkind was one of the 37 invited architects to the competition, and then he invited
Arturo Ortiz and Alejandro Hernández to develop the proposal. The 150,000 pesos that they received were used to design and evidence the actual situation of social and public infrastructure decay.

"From the 37 invited teams, one decided not to participate, i see that as the most radical stand, to say "i wont play this game because i think is stupid", i believe our stand is more a political one, to say "we do not agree, because of this" and take it to a more radical side, but seeking to open a debate about public space and the inclusion of the inhabitants of the city." Hernandez adds

their proposal ordinate the vehicle traffic, expanded the green areas, would take 20 years to be built and will cost 200 million dolars. Their presentation showed real actual problems like car traffic chaos or informal vendors in the area.

Due that the architects and people of the city wasn't "invited" to participate in the decision of "how to celebrate", the the team had the possibility to remember that architects have always a chance to take a more critic-political position, mentions Ortiz

"when was the last time a Modern and Illustrated State built an Arch or any other type of self-celebration monument?" asked the team to the jury in their presentation for their submission.

"You don't need a big forehead or a lot of visas in your passport to know that this projects don't happen often in the world, and whenever they are done, they are reason of laugh or fear, like when Sadam Hussein builds his "BLADES OF VICTORY", emphasizes Hernandez.

In their presentation boards the team showed that the cost of the project will be equivalent to: One Month of the salary of Carlos Slim (CEO of the mexican Grupo CARSO), or a Year of Salary of any State Secretary in Mexico, or also the salary of 100 years of 10 workers (in minimum wage)

with info of and with e-mail conversations with the team.
Images property of Glessner Group courtesy of Rojkind Arquitectos, all rights reserved.

Gana Torre, no Arco Bicentenario

Considera jurado que el proyecto premiado es el más accesible a toda la población
Dora Luz Haw

Ciudad de México (16 abril 2009).- No será un arco, sino una torre de luz y una plaza que cubrirá Circuito Interior, lo que se construirá en el Paseo de la Reforma, a la altura de la Puerta de los Leones de Chapultepec, para conmemorar el Bicentenario de la Independencia. "Es simple y eficaz. Como torre de luz es innovadora, es una estructura simple, racional y adecuada", consideró el jurado que eligió el anteproyecto del arquitecto César Pérez Becerril, de entre las 35 propuestas que se presentaron en el Concurso Nacional para construir el Arco Bicentenario.

El equipo encabezado por Pérez Becerril, integrado por egresados de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, propuso un elemento vertical de 104 metros de altura recubierto de cuarzo y esbelto, lo que evita el protagonismo y la obstrucción de Reforma.

Incluye una plaza que cubre Circuito Interior y otra área cubierta, debajo de Reforma, por la que se conectan el Bosque de Chapultepec y el Parque Ariel.
Con su propuesta, que implica una reordenación urbana de la zona, pretende recobrar a través de una plaza, la parte sur del actual puente que conecta el Monumento a los Niños Héroes con la entrada al Bosque, así como una parte de este pulmón verde que se había perdido con las obras viales, extendiéndolo hacia Avenida Constituyentes.

"Nuestra preocupación central fue la gente, por eso propusimos una plaza donde pudieran comunicarse, juntarse y convivir. Eso es lo que necesita este País", declaró Pérez Becerril. El autor, egresado de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y con una trayectoria de más de 20 años en la construcción, principalmente en lo relacionado a obra industrial y comercio, explica que su proyecto busca representar que, a pesar de que las cosas en México no son fáciles porque se pasa por momentos sociales y económicos difíciles, hay esperanza y fe.

El fallo se dio a conocer ayer por la tarde en una ceremonia que se llevó a cabo en el Museo Rufino Tamayo, sin la participación del Presidente Felipe Calderón, quien anunció el pasado 26 de enero, con fuegos pirotécnicos y un elegante coctel en el Castillo de Chapultepec, la celebración del Concurso Nacional.

Al acto, presidido por los secretarios de Gobernación, Fernando Gómez Mont, y de Educación Pública, Alonso Lujambio, así como Consuelo Sáizar, titular del Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, asistieron casi todos los concursantes, aunque fue notoria la ausencia de algunos de los arquitectos con más trayectoria, como Teodoro González de León, Ricardo Legorreta, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez y Enrique Norten.

El proyecto ejecutivo deberá realizarse de abril a junio de este año, mes en el que iniciarán las obras. Su inauguración está prevista para el 15 de septiembre de 2010.

Defiende su honorabilidad César Pérez Becerril, ganador del Concurso Nacional para construir el Arco Bicentenario, construyó hace dos años un edificio enterrado cuyo techo es una pequeña plaza, en el Instituto de Ingeniería en Ciudad Universitaria, cuando Felipe Leal, jurado del concurso, era responsable de proyectos especiales en la UNAM.

En dos ocasiones Leal, quien el lunes fue señalado en un desplegado publicado en REFORMA de tener vínculos con algunos de los participantes, negó que conociera al ganador, pero tras la insistencia, tuvo que aceptarlo.

"Durante mi gestión en Proyectos Especiales contraté, que no es lo mismo que ser socio, a muchos de los arquitectos aquí presentes". Descalificó la inserción y dijo que estaba basada en falsedades porque un jurado lo componen muchos miembros.

"El acto de hoy derrumba cualquier suspicacia y no acepto de ninguna manera que exista alguna duda de la honorabilidad tanto de Sara Topelson (jurado también), como de mi persona".



"MERCI" is a concept store as well as a charity shop. Bernand and Marie-France Cohen (the couple behind the luxury children’s clothing brand Bonpoint) now introduce the newest Parisian wonderland. Opened in March 2009, their Marais shop is a 1,500-square-meter designer mecca:
clothes made by "des jeunes créateurs", used books in a "café bouquiniste", home and kitchenware and furniture. The designer corner cradles pieces created especially for the store by the likes of YSL, Stella McCartney, Azzaro, Alexis Mabille and Marni—and cost 30-40 percent less than from its respective name-brand stores.

We rather describe it as an up-market (and dito priced) charity store given the fact they sell vintage items as well as designer items, At merci, you can find flowers, fragrances and jewelry as well, a vintage clothing selection bursting at the seams with Burberry coats, Dior jackets and Chanel quilted bags. Teenage girls and their well-heeled mothers, rejoice!

The "charity" part kicks in at the level of the seller, as all profits go to a fund to help kids in Madagascar and the staff consists of volunteers. An ambitious but beautiful project given the recession we're in.

With its 1500 square meters the store is quite big and organized over three floors. Just the location - a former fabric factory - and the way everything is displayed makes this store worth a visit - and I'm sure once there you'll be able to find something to your taste...

Just know that every euro cent spent will go to a good cause...

merci is located at 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003 Paris - Métro 8 - Saint-Sébastien-Froissart. You can visit their website here:

Monday, April 6, 2009

South of the Border, Under the Sun

Life in Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, Mexico, runs at an easy, relaxing pace. The town seems quiet, people are friendly and all around you are accompanied by a wide range of colors provided by nature, the ocean, homes and by local artesanos showcasing their work on the streets. We enjoy taking short trips to the East Cape, and especially to Los Barriles. Below are some photos which we took at the photoshooting for a magazine ESCAPES... You will see why it's so easy to fall in love with this place.

You can read the whole article about this home and living in Los Barriles in Escapes, issue 3, page 10.
These photographs are available for sale in our on-line photo store at We offer lifestyle, editorial, journalist and stock photography. Thanks!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


In the first half of the XX century, cities were thought as a clear organizational scheme, with a simple and predictable order, capable to be designed and planned in such way that the life quality of its residents could be modified manipulating the physical shape of the city. The result was a tragic social engineering effort, fueled by a scientific method in the form of urban planning that have dominated western societies the last 60 years, and now, unfortunately, the developing world. Urban systems everywhere, are just way to complex to be reduced to what conventional science can focus on.

The Contemporary Coastal city is the amalgam of invisible fluxes and visible materialization of information that operate simultaneously en spaces of global nature as also in spaces of local nature. To recognize this forces, fluxes and potentials is the challenge of any contemporary urban design or planning.

Related to this, in September (2008), the city of Dalian in China hosted the 44th International Congress of Urbanists, organized by the "ISOCARP". The main subject of this event was "Urban Growth Without Sprawl", one of the fundamental problems of urbanism practices these days.

To make an example about how cities behave, we must say that New York City, although having around 16 million inhabitants, don't have severe problems for its development and governability, in contrast Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, has 12 million inhabitants and it is sinked in a severe state of underdevelopment and crisis without mentioning the very low life quality. In Mexico (as a country) one of the main problems has been the indiscriminated territorial expansion and the occupation of natural areas, originally designated to forests or agriculture, destroying at the same time very important natural resources. The lack of long term projects for the distribution of the population has also been the cause of so much floating population.

Fortunately seems action its being taken, at least in some cases. In this past International Congress of Urbanists, 7 projects were presented addressing Mexican development plans (none from Baja California Sur as far as i know). The group of mexican experts shown an interesting study realized in 2004, proposing an innovative "Metropolitan Management Model" which was applied to specific cases mainly in some areas of Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula; all of this projects share a common interest in the sustainable development of the territory and the usage and preservation of the natural resources in the areas that this are developed.

The project for de Development of Lazaro Cardenas Municipality (Playa del Carmen), in Quintana Roo by CANO VERA + Territorios + AUS, takes as starting point the concepts of City and Region, generating its proposal based on identity at different scales: neighborhoods, parks and dwellings with simple solutions and with a low execution cost integrating innovative construction systems with the use of local materials and workers as also eco-technologies like re-feeding the underground natural water networks with rainwater, natural ventilations, optimized orientations and integration of the infrastructures with public spaces. They also make a big emphasis in promoting the pedestrian mobility, by planning the different areas of the plan not more than 5 minutes far from each other (housing from parks or commerce, and vice versa), the urban development will enhance the social interaction.

The STRATEGIC PLAN FOR URBAN DEVELOPMENT 2030 for Cancun was also presented. This plan was awarded with the EXCELLENCE IN URBAN PLANNING prize in this same congress; Its main aspects are the master plan for the Hotel corridor in cancun as also the integration of irregular housing settlements and to add its territorial reserves designated for housing up to year 2030, without forgetting to connect and revitalize downtown and its connection with the hotel strip. In terms of mobility, the plan contemplates to improve the vehicle infrastructure and the integration of bicycle paths (linked to public sport areas and infrastructures) and the update of the public transport system. On the environmental side it aims to protect the wells areas and the generation of a series of lineal parks to communicate the city, favoring once again the public space as the articulation of the city.

This interesting proposals are just a small spark of what we could expect in the near future for the development of urban strategies which will deliver better and more efficient urban areas, specially for those of us who live in a coastal setting which involves specific situations and agents that are not related to macro-scale urban settings like Mexico City of New York. In this case i should mention the massive emergence of new groups of study about the Coastal Cities, specially in Spain (no wonder why Spain is the number one country in tourism profits, and also no wonder why they have more than 60% of the investment in the area of Cancun), academic institutions like the IaaC (with their research about the Mediterranean coast of Africa), the Intelligent Coast group (and its proposals for the Mediterranean Spanish Coast) and the SUPERSUDACA collective (with the analysis of the latin american Caribbean) are some of the groups of research and analysis in sustainable urban development for tourism-based areas.

In our own very area of Los Cabos the young CAPA collective (formed by 3 young offices of Los Cabos area with international credentials) has been studying new alternatives for the sustainable development of our Baja territory, and im sure soon will be hearing more of them soon and hopefully we will show you some of the work that this research-based collective has been generating, if you wish to get more info or in contact with the guys at CAPA, visit their website at:

From all of this analysis we should realize that most of this proposals are still in their theoretical stage but they form a big database of proposals for the future of human settlements and territories. The urban strategies should always think ahead the administrative territorial capacities, in the cities it has become urgent to implement strategies for its economical and social development, unfortunately, most of times there's no effective political and legal frame for the management of the urban settlements and its resources (natural, economical, social, etc); Today's territorial management should be based in collaborative and relational processes which wont compete but complement each other, the coordination of local governments, social participation, the common project view, strategies and the efficient instrumentation is basic for the successful development of this new plans.

The sometimes huge difference between socioeconomic layers in the area, makes all of this even harder to manage, most of urban strategies and plans fails for lack of proper management and not because of a wrong planning. A good planning without proper management becomes "plain good ideas". And good management without good planning only generates wrong realities.

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