Paisajes Emergentes

The Colombian studio's magical architecture describes the search for a profound relati onship with the unheeded manifestati ons of a place, revealing the spaces that safeguard the invisible side of a landscape.


Architecture / Francesca Picchi

The first key to interpreting the work of Columbian studio Paisajes Emergentes, or "emerging landscapes", comes in the form of the group's name. Indeed, this Medellín-based architecture collective strives to make buildings that enter into contact with the submerged energy of nature and commence an exchange that will evolve over time. The "emerging landscape" thus represents a suspended horizon, something unexplored that is waiting to be awakened.

"Architecture reacts to places" is the statement in which their investigations are rooted. They want their architecture to be able to listen to and register the latent energy contained in the landscape, aiming to construct a physical device that allows us to capture dormant qualities, activate them and make them perceptible. Architecture proves to have the power to interact with these enigmatic presences, as it possesses the means and scale to mediate with them.

What does the landscape mean to Paisajes Emergentes? Rather than a literary dimension from which to extract elements for a representation that is destined to last a single fleeting lifetime, they see landscape as a space of freedom where one goes to discover one's own primary images. During this process, drawings represent the medium that collects emerging images and deposits them on the reality of a paper surface.

Inhabited or uninhabited as it may be, architecture, to these three young Colombian architects, implies the condition of listening, the search for a profound and direct relationship with the unheeded manifestations of a place. This quest is inspired by instability, the passing of time and the interaction with nature's slow pace, measured in geological eras or telluric movements.

For the (landscape) architects of Paisajes Emergentes, natural phenomena constitute the "raw material" from which to make a project emerge. Thus, if architecture is not separable from and cannot exist without natural phenomena or the enigmatic presences in the landscape, it is because architecture is not meant to engender a form of resistance. Nor does it aim to erect a bulwark in defence of the enclosure identified by architecture. Rather it is prepared to be a form of adaptation, in order to include these things in the project and turn them into the activators of a new ecosystem that is at its centre. To do this, architecture steps in to function as a piece of infrastructure and sustain the emergence of new ecosystems that would not have been able to establish themselves independently otherwise: a place of welcome for "natural" accidents. It is as if architecture had found the memory of its organic substance in order to stage its aspiration of becoming fully fused with the elements of nature, adapting to its prolonged rhythm and the slow turning of the wheel of time.

Each project stems from the patient observation of a place's qualities. The "dialogue" with the presences that inhabit the landscape is modulated according to a quasi-scientific type of language, specifically able to indicate the laws with which to manipulate the "raw material" that is the foundation of the project. It helps them to calculate the direction of the winds, the breezes blowing in from the mountains, the trajectories of the currents, the rhythmic movement of the tides, the convectional flowing of air and atmospheric factors. This language is constructed by borrowing from the semantic fields of geology, biology and meteorology – subjects which Paisajes Emergentes attempt to make their own in order to open up the architecture issue to unexplored territory.

Despite the consciousness of an inescapable destiny that suggests we beware of environmental catastrophe, the magical architecture of Paisajes Emergentes recognises the intrinsic life of the landscape (which is inhabited by presences that preside over the invisible side of the universe) by trying to describe the parallel dimensions that are feasible for the human environment. In flooded landscapes, such as in J.G. Ballard's deserts of water, human constructions emerge as mysterious and faraway or suspended. The sky, like the sea or prairies that stretch out as far as the eye can see, dissolves into the horizon, alluding to a future that is unknown yet full of possibilities.

Proposal for the Venice Lagoon Park. The project was conceived as a living museum to showcase the city’s slow mutation

The Lake Park proposal for Quito’s abandoned airport. In the design the runway is completly flooded to generate an active hydrogeologic park. The 3,120-m line is divided in 6 stages that include bioremediation wetlands, pools and thermal baths, an aquatic flora botanical garden, an open-air excavated acquarium and a recreational lake

The Venice Lagoon Park is articulated in episodes characterised by the presence of water: forests enclosed by architecture, and thermal baths inside flooded buildings whose roofs have been removed, transforming the landscape according to the rhythm of the tides. Walls and roofs constitute an interposition to our perception, reinforcing our experience of the horizon

The Lake Park project concerns the transformation of Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito, soon to be replaced by a new terminal. An international competition was announced for the redevelopment of the 126-hectare area set aside by the city council. Paisajes Emergentes’s proposal displays the outdated Ecuadorian fleet, as well as war planes, helicopters and aircraft donated by different countries. The aircraft lie scattered over an area colonised spontaneously by wetland species, turning them into an increasingly enigmatic presence

A manifesto for Medellín

A manifesto for Medellín

In Medellín, Colombia, a group of architects with clear ideas draws up a manifesto to change the destiny of the city.


Architecture / Miguel Mesa R