When I set up the project "learning from Mexico" in wintery Switzerland in January of this year, I was not aware of the ambiguity of the title. I was looking for a simple name that would unmistakably indicate my goal in Mexico: I want to learn from this country and pass on what I've learned. I made my choice spontaneously and without much questioning.
It wasn't until two months later, during a taxi ride through Mexico City with Arturo Ortiz (interview to follow), that it became clear to me why many of my architect friends didn't understand what I meant by this blogname. Everyone assumed I was referring to one of the most influential publications in the history of architecture: learning from Las Vegas. To be honest, I must confess that I had not thought for a second of the work of the recently deceased Robert Venturi and his partner Denise Scott Brown. Sometimes you miss the most obvious things. Arturo complimented me on the chosen blog name, because he too suspected the reference to the well-known book. I thanked him and immediately started researching to fully understand the compliment.
As chance would have it, the research project "learning from Las Vegas" does indeed have some parallels to my project. Of course, the clearest common ground is that I am also researching a city and trying to understand it in my own way. I share my observations in a chosen format and thus also propose a view of this city. In contrast to Venturi and Scott Brown, however, I take a much less methodical and analytical approach to discovering Mexico City. My approach to the city should be much more intuitive and also includes its inhabitants. The readers accompany me on my journey of discovery through Mexico (with a focus on Mexico City) directly via a personal blog. An important part of my blog will be conversations that I will have with architects, urban planners and designers. My conversation partners will help me to understand what we can learn from Mexico. I am not only interested in facts but I also hope to meet planners and designers who inspire me in their attitude and personality. I hope that the conversations can give impulses and inspire reflection.
To come back to the comparison with the urban research of Venturi and Scott Brown, another point of contact is that my exploration of Mexico arose out of an unprejudiced interest. It is not without reason that I chose a country I knew absolutely nothing about. To have no idea means to have no prejudices at all. After I had experienced a lot of judgement and "Déformation professionnelle" in the Swiss architecture scene over the last few years, it was important for me to be able to experience a place and its architecture from my own eyes without having heard countless judgemental opinions. It is essential for me to conduct open, unbiased dialogues in Mexico. It is also very important that I allow myself to make mistakes. This is the only way to develop personally and professionally from my perspective.
With "learning from Mexico", I would like to show that Mexico is also a place where impressive architects live who produce outstanding architectural achievements. "What can we learn from Mexico?" I ask the designers and planners in the discussions. I look forward to their answers.