CASA BALLENA ART CENTER
RIMA DESIGN GROUP
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico
GERRY RIVERO, MARITERE RIVERO
FRANCISCO LÓPEZ GUERRA, ANTONIO GIL, CARLOS ESPINO, JORGE MONTAÑO, PEDRO RICARDEZ, XITLALI CESEÑA, NOÉ CANTE, GRUPO SAI
Rafael Gamo, Rory Gardiner
The project’s main objective was to create a space for an artist-in-residence program providing resources to create sociocultural projects for the community. This was accomplished by creating a set of workshops and a gallery that all have the same orientation, providing the same type of natural light in each of the spaces and giving the artists assurance that their work will have the same light exposition from the early creative stages until the exhibition. The print workshop has controlled light openings according to the functions performed inside this workshop, while the gallery has a roof geometry that allows better diffusion of natural light for the exhibited art pieces.
The workshops and gallery enclose the main patio: a work and contemplation space for artists with a water feature that gives it character. The gallery’s rooftop is accessed from this patio; a rooftop that turns into a lookout point and botanical garden thanks to the planters which give a home to endemic grass while being the structure that provides light inside of the gallery. This rooftop is linked to the print workshop’s rooftop: a perfect space to socialize under the pergola’s shadow.
Through the path that surrounds the buildings one can access the private studio that not only serves as a workplace for artists, but is also a resting hall furnished with bathroom and kitchen. This private workshop has a terrace facing south covered by a wood pergola, providing a peaceful space to contemplate the landscape and the Marina.
The main building system is rammed earth, a material that brings character to buildings through its textures, while also creating a micro-climate that becomes necessary for the extreme weather conditions in Los Cabos, and acoustically isolating the workshops. This building system was used for the main buildings such as the workshops, gallery, warehouses and administrative area.
The orientation was planned according to each building’s function, positioning the workshops facing north, while the living and dining halls, administrative area, and residences face south with views towards the Marina at Puerto Los Cabos. Each building zoning helps in providing shade in the different patios and responds to the privacy needs required by each area, from the most public to the most private.
The relationship with nature is very important to this project; the buildings concentrate on the terrain achieving an internal experience that brings privacy to artists across patios, each of which has a unique design that goes according to their purpose: may it be as a reception area, or a place to rest, work or socialize, some being more private than others.
Casa Ballena’s slogan is “art, identity, ecology” and they stay true to it by supporting the cultural development of the area and sensitivity to its environment through the production, exhibition and promotion of national and international visual arts. It offers spaces to experiment and create by handling different art techniques and materials with the advice of a specialized team. Their current workshops and spaces include a production studio, typography studio and workshop, engraving studio, and paint studio.
It was built in an undeveloped area, adapting to the context in an attempt of becoming part of the topography instead of standing out visually, becoming as much part of the landscape as possible. The same earth that was excavated to make the platforms in which it stands, was used to build the rammed earth walls of the project. Since it’s construction, the area has reactivated and the building has become a milestone for both locals and new developers as an architectural and construction reference, setting precedent for new constructions to be built adapted to the site’s topography and available materials as much as possible.