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Guayacan Nursery

Ambrosi Etchegaray

Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo, Mexico

February 2018


Gabriela Etchegaray Cerón, Jorge Ambrosi Sánchez


Bosco Sodi, Alfredo Martínez, Maestro José, Javier Caro, Ivo Martins


Bosco Sodi


Arlette Del Hoyo


We understood our approach as mediators of an expression that nature offered with the nearby sprouts of the "guaiacum" plant. The project was conceived as an invitation for the caretakers and the visitors, to delve at the plant level. Resulting in an excavation that turns into a promenade to accompany and provide the cultivation tables. The dislocation from the ground, allows a close interaction with the trees. Providing a more comfortable position towards the caretaker. Also, it induces us in the temperature, the humidity, the flow of air and in the transition of the year’s conditions, highlighting the drought and rainy seasons. Through a poor concrete, the earth is held while it holds the cultivation tables as remains of the excavation. There are two height circuits to circulate the plantations. In the middle and at the end of the walk the paths connect through ramps. As outings for the experience of walking through the plants, as an alternative when the ground water level is higher.

The roof serves as the main access, as a threshold that provides shelter from the sun. A space for the workers and visitor to relate to observe the plantations, -the sun, water, and air- as the needs and stages of the guaiacum plant. It also plays a role within the hydrological system, exposing the water that is collected, treated, and stored in a cistern for the irrigation of plants. In turn, it serves as a thermostat to cool the atmospheric sensation under this flooded slab.


The Guayacan Nursery project started after finding sprouts, nearby Casa Wabi, of the endemic specie “Guaiacum Sanctum L. Zygophyllaceae”, colloquially known as Guayacan. Fundación Casa Wabi, with the support from the Oaxaca government, managed to create the legal frame under the name Environmental Management Unit (UMA) to be able to operate on the reproduction of the endangered Guayacan tree.

Fundación Casa Wabi is a non-profit, civil organization that aims to promote collaboration and social commitment through art, providing spaces were residents and the communities of the region work together. Guayacan Nursery is part of a series of projects commissioned by the Foundation that seek on the one hand, to create an international architecture node and on the other hand to link with the community in this context. The projects surround Casa Wabi the artist residency by Tadao Ando. The landscape project is by Alberto Kalach, the Clay Pavilion by Alvaro Siza. The other three pavilions were commissioned at the same time, which are the Chicken Coop by Kengo Kuma, the Composting Pavilion by Estudio Gabinete de Arquitectura and the Guyacan Nursery by AMBROSI ETCHEGARAY

The Guayacan Nursery is found upon entering the area of Casa Wabi area, next to the entrance. It is the first pavilion by location and the fourth intervention within this complex. However, due to its condition of being half underground, and surrounded by vegetation it may appear unnoticed.


One of the main operations of the project was to develop the program within the minimum built footprint. The excavation helps to provide the latter in addition to take advantage of the high water-ground level. This data, together with the possibility of observing, touching, and taking care of the sprouting in a better position, was fundamental for the excavation and configuration of the project.

We have confirmed with the caretakers that the flooded slab and the dislocation to the ground level have provided a comfortable space in the daily activities. The materiality has contributed to storing humidity from the floods due to the high water-ground.

The Guayacan growth is slow, it takes about 20 years to become a mature tree. Thus, we consider the guayacan nursery as a project in which the development unfolds on a larger temporal scale. The growth process is planned in the number of tables, designed to move the youngest trees back and forth as they grow. When the plants reach the last table, there is a distribution network of the government of the State of Oaxaca to be planted.

Each place in the pavilion has tried to care for those close to it, human or non-human. The project expands our understanding of the other, as well as our relationship with shared spaces. It aims to care for the other respecting it, reflecting on how we come to think or relate to other bodies to open our awareness of our field of practice.

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