Local and global as symbiosis: office portrait of Zeller & Moye

Their projects are spread all over the world: in Iraq, Germany, England and Mexico. They gained their work experience in the Japanese office SANAA and in Switzerland with Herzog & de Meuron. They founded their architectural office Zeller & Moye in Mexico City in 2013. Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye have spent much time dealing with cultural identity and global networking, both personally and professionally. In a conversation with «Learning from Mexico», the German-Mexican architect duo explains how they seek a balance between «local» and «global» in their projects and why they chose Mexico City as their office location.

Operating globally

At the furthest distance from the office location, is the project in Iraq. It is a direct commission for a memorial to the genocide of the Kurds in Kurdistan. In the middle of the desert, a circular gallery made of stone walls typical of the region is being built, on which photographs of the survivors are exhibited. The huge emptiness inside the circle will slowly grow into a green oasis and become a place of mourning and gathering for the relatives of the victims. The recently completed residential building in Berlin was also planned using building materials from the immediate surroundings: The small wooden house, which seems to float above the ground, revolves around the existing tree population, creating small courtyards and a number of views. Another project mentioned by Zeller & Moye in the interview is the logistics terminal for the company Mexamerik. Located directly on a Mexican highway, the building is designed as a kind of «non-building», explains Moye. Within the very openly designed, white steel structure, there are very different work areas, from enclosed spaces to weather-protected outdoor areas. As different as the duo's projects may be in terms of their use, size, and climatic environment, they all have one thing in common: the potential of the fusion of interior and exterior space is always exploited to the full. According to Zeller & Moye, the search for the connection between architecture and nature is one of their most important learning experiences of Mexico, which they are now trying to apply worldwide.

1. Christoph Zeller und Ingrid Moye 2. Anfal Memorial 3. Haus Koeris 4.-5. Mexamerik 6. Casa Verne 7.-8. Casa Hilo © Zeller & Moye

Locally rooted Mexico appeared to the duo as an open field for architectural and spatial experiments, so that they decided to open the headquarters of their architectural office here. They set themselves the goal of designing as much as possible down to the last detail, which is much easier to realize in Mexico than in Europe: A product developed with a craftsman is often cheaper than using a certified product. Zeller describes working with materials in Mexico as «direct», «almost in a poetic way» and like in Europe 200 years ago. In contrast, German and Swiss architects spend too much of their time defining standardized products from a catalogue, says Zeller.

In addition to the absence of extensive standardization in Mexico, the mentality of customers also allows more room for experimentation. Individual and experimental approaches are usually seen as an advantage by the client; they do not look for a zero risk project. At the same time, they expect an extraordinarily good personal relationship and more flexibility during the course of the project. According to Zeller, the architect's social skills are also more important for the acquisition here than an impressive portfolio, according to the architect.

Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye in their office in Mexico City © Zeller & Moye

Laure Nashed ( interviewed Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye in Mexico City. The architect duo was mentioned in the 2018 article «Covadonga Conversations», which encouraged Laure Nashed to move to Mexico.

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This text was published on werk, bauen + wohnen.

© LEARNING FROM MEXICO 2019 by Laure Nashed

 Die Beiträge von «learningfrommexico» entstehen in Zusammenarbeit mit der Schweizer Architekturzeitschrift werk, bauen + wohnen.