Tatiana Bilbao Interview: Misunderstood Sustainability

“I hate the word ‘sustainability’.” Hear the prizewinning Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao reflect upon one of the buzzwords of contemporary architecture, which she feels should be a natural part of all human activities.

“We recycle, we save energy automatically because we don’t have resources. In Mexico, whatever I throw away is used seven or eight more times after me.” Coming from a country with few resources, Bilbao is used to not wasting these resources like she feels they do in many wealthy countries: “You don’t do a building that needs air-conditioning in the weather we have, because it’s wasting energy which you don’t have. We don’t have money to pay for it.”

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

Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Dreyers Fond

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