Tatiana Bilbao Interview: Architecture and Nature

How can the built environment work with nature instead of against it? Watch the award-winning Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao offer her take on this, emphasizing the enriching dialogue between nature and architecture, which we must be very cautious to preserve.

Architecture, Bilbao finds, comes from nature: “We build the environment, but from the environment.” With her architecture, Bilbao likes to create a direct link to nature, such as when she uses earth from the ground for the building. She compares architecture and nature to two very different people, who agree or disagree – and learn from each other. This connection, she stresses, is something that we must be careful not to ruin: “We’re losing respect for that other because we’re not looking at it. When you are not able to look at the other, you are not able to relate with it, so you don’t care. And I think that’s the way the built environment has acted towards nature.”

Tatiana Bilbao (b. 1972) is a Mexican architect. The landscape plays a crucial role in her work, and she works with it on various scales – from the Mexican countryside through urban scenes to the ‘internal landscape’ of the individual building. Her wide-ranging work includes structures along a pilgrimage route in Mexico, a botanical garden and a project in Mexico City, where a line of light will enable women to walk safely through remote parts of the city. In 2004, she founded Tatiana Bilbao Estudio with projects in China, Europe and Mexico. At the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015, Bilbao presented a “flexible building prototype,” using modular components that could be adjusted to fit the number of inhabitants, and with materials that could be varied to suit the climate. The design was commissioned by the Mexican government to help alleviate the country’s housing shortage with low-cost solutions. Bilbao is the recipient of prestigious awards including the UNESCO Global Award for Sustainable Architecture Prize in 2014.

Tatiana Bilbao was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein in Germany in May 2019.

Camera: Klaus Elmer

Edited by Klaus Elmer

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Cover photo: Jardin Botanico (2012) by Tatiana Bilbao (© Iwan Baan)

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Dreyers Fond

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