Founded in 2014 by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi, the non-profit art center Casa Wabi provides a platform to engage and connect with the local community. Located directly on Mexico’s Pacific coast in Puerto Escondido, it brings together public space, gardens, artist residences, a gallery, and residential spaces with classrooms.
The foundation derives its name from the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, a vision of the world that focuses on the acceptance of the ephemeral and the imperfect. Based on this philosophy, Casa Wabi was designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, with the aspiration of creating a space that invites interaction.
The plan for the area is laid out like a giant compass. A 312-meter-long concrete wall forms the framework for the building. It runs from west to east along the coast to create a series of different spaces and zones. The north-south axis is accentuated by an access road and a long narrow terrace and swimming pool that extend to the water’s edge. “The project site is situated directly facing the South Pacific Ocean, sharing 550 meters of coastline with only the breathtaking beach,” Ando explains. “The wall creates horizontal separation between public programs on the north side and private programs on the south side, [and] also generates the main circulation path cutting across every program, serving as a dual interior and exterior wall.”
The main building forms the center of the cross formation and the concrete wall divides the interior into two halves, with reception spaces on the north side and living areas on the south.
Ando’s style-forming concrete structures are covered with woven palm leaves. This local palapa-style roof form seems to be the only element separating indoor and outdoor spaces. The effect is enhanced by the use of wooden shutters instead of glass panels; in addition to parota wood, Ando also uses marmolina, typical of the region. Under the leadership of director Carla Sodi, international architects and artists are invited to engage with the local environment. Thus, structures by Alberto Kalach, Álvaro Siza, Kengo Kuma, Gloria Cabral, Solano Benítez, and duo Jorge Ambrosi and Gabriela Etchegaray have already been added to the remarkable building ensemble.
© Image Edmmon Summer