2022

MCHAP

Silkworm Sanctuary

LAMZ arquitectura

San Pedro Cajonos, Mexico

November 2020

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Luis Alberto Martinez Zuñiga

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Jehú Pinacho Reyes, Josué Pacheco Santiago, Eduardo García Peréz, Manuel Salvador Copca, Juan Pablo Acevedo

CLIENT

Oaxaca State Governemnt; FIDELO *Fideicomiso para el Desarrollo Logístico del Estado de Oaxaca.*

PHOTOGRAPHER

Onnis Luque

OBJECTIVE

The project emerges from the necessity to consolidate the production of silk in the community with the most sericulture tradition; San Pedro Cajonos, in the Sierra Norte in the state of Oaxaca. Due to the topography of the region, the project finds the right way to emerge each volume of the program, achieving a pathway that pursuits two options; the perpendicular or diagonal angles between platforms, with the purpose of respecting the pre-existing trees to the fullest and also generate a set of ramps and bridges to move from one volume to another, in each platform we aspire to co-relate the interior and exterior surrounding and frame the landscape to create an adequate transition between each laboratory, since each one has different characteristics of temperature and humidity.
The diagonal solution to the slope allowed us to take a functional criterion that generated a triangular grid on the site, one that could increase or decrease in each space in virtue of its function and location, thus creating several edges both internally and externally, which originated certain tension between each of the different volumes interconnected by a void in the middle.
The pedestrian access -a brick pathway- leads to a main entry and a ramp that takes you to the roof terraces. The interior circulation shows us first an exposition of historic objects used by artisans, later the five processes of worm breeding, the silk treatment, and the exposition for sail. The rooftops are interconnected by bridges and adequate slope floors for pedestrian transit, this allows a passage between the treetops that are located at the middle of the program and the ones that surround it, favoring the east view where you can see the Sierra Norte directly.

CONTEXT

The silk related activities in the state of Oaxaca date back to the end of the XIX century, towards the beginning of the 90’s, sericulture becomes one the main economic activities in San Pedro Cajonos, a small community located in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca.
Before the execution of this project, the silk artisans from the CentraL Valleys and the Sierra Norte regions of the state, as well as some from other parts of the Mexico, had to travel to the center of the country to acquire the eggs necessary to breed and harvest them. Mainly for this reason, the artisans committee searched during 15 years help from the state government to help them construct the necessary infrastructure to do the whole process within the community. With this purpose, the decision was made to create a project that beholds all the activities and spaces necessary for the production process, summoning the neighboring communities with the possibly of creating an exchange of goods and services within the region. This aspect will be fundamental in opening the possibilities for an economic growth and the substantial improvement of the quality of life for the artisans and their families. The Silkworm Sanctuary establishes in the community as the first space in the country exclusively dedicated to sericulture, commercializing the silkworm eggs, and manufacturing silk products.

PERFORMANCE

The program that developed this project focused on incorporating every phase of the productive cycle; with this premise the building generates a circuit that leads the visitor to traverse linearly each one of the stages of worm breeding and production of silk. The circuit begins displaying eggs and mating laboratories and incubation area; these three spaces were equipped to accommodate custom made industrial equipment. The area of young worm breeding and the lower level of adult worm breeding include air conditioning and humidifiers that are necessary to create the ideal conditions for the silkworm breeding. In these two last spaces the furnishing was design hand in hand with the artisans’ committee representatives, to fulfil the production volumes and to facilitate and improve the worm handling, here the cocoons develop in five stages of growth, until they can be treated in the drying oven. In the spinner area the artisans begin the extraction of thread from the cocoons; in this area thread skeins are made and stored to be dyed and transformed into textiles. The circuit ends with the exhibition of silk crafts in store located in the upper level.
This is how the committee that includes 400 artisan families, have the tools to achieve the productive autonomy, by accomplishing a chain that generates from 3 to 4 million eggs per year and preventing them from moving to places far from their community and pay surcharges for the raw material of their own work. The project offers a dignified space focused so the artisans can sell their products without an intermediary. The committee decided that the project will also serve to exhibit alebrijes that the community produces and that the revenues obtained from the sale of the eggs and silk crafts be divided equally.
The committee has begun a bidding that looks for the denomination of the region’s silkworm origin, which includes the worm produce in the XVII century by the neighboring communities. As soon as the building open its doors to the public, the community started to appropriate the open spaces, in particularly the roof terraces, which have served as stages to celebrate recreative activities, cultural and social events from the community and visitors.