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Wisdom through Tradition: office portrait of Dellekamp + Schleich

The well-known architecture firm Dellekamp + Schleich is based right in the middle of the noisy scenery at the Plaza de la República in Mexico City. The first thing the visitor sees here, proudly presented on a black socle, is an impressive model of a long wooden structure. In Mexico, wooden buildings are a rarity. The fact that the Dellekamp + Schleich office has increasingly ventured to use this building material in recent years is connected with a Swiss project and the Swiss office partner Jachen Schleich.


In 2016, the Swiss Embassy commissioned Derek Dellekamp and Jachen Schleich to design a pavilion: the "Casa de Suiza" was to be built in a traditional Swiss building material which was defined as wood. The other vague conditions were more typical for Mexico. The architects began the project without a defined programme and without knowing the location. This led to a sophisticated solution made of pine wood with metal connections. The pavilion was composed of multifunctional triangular modules that allow it to be adapted to any situation.


Budget constraints and project uncertainties are common situations in Mexico, explains Jachen Schleich in an interview. In a two-part interview, the architects talk about how they deal with the challenges of Mexican architecture in the everyday context and how the approach they developed throughout the time as a result influences their architecture. The constructive elements that are indispensable in the building become the protagonists of their designs. Dellekamp and Schleich focus on the structure, which cannot be cut out of the budget. Their solutions range from pragmatic to very creative. Always kept as simple as possible, the projects are adapted to the respective context. Dellekamp + Schleich manage to merge the necessary and the aesthetics in very different ways.

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Laure Nashed (learningfrommexico.com) interviewed the architects in her office. Despite its location on the third floor, listening to the audio recording immerses you in the noisy Mexican scenery. In the first part of the interview, the architects introduce themselves and talk about their working attitude. From minute 14:06 on, Jachen Schleich and Derek Dellekamp deal with the question of what one can learn from Mexico. They talk about how they deal with Mexican unpredictability. Schleich and Dellekamp state that living conditions in Mexico are closer to global reality than in Switzerland. The comparison with Switzerland is constantly present in the conversation due to the origin of Jachen.


«the structure is basically what the building is about» «our projects are super site-specific» «we don't see ourselves as innovators» «we believe that there is a wisdom in tradition that we are happy to integrate in our work»

The interview took place in English at the architects' office. In spite of the third floor, listening to the audio recording one is immersed in the Mexican soundscape. In the first part of the interview, the architects introduce themselves and talk about their working attitude. From minute 14:06 Jachen Schleich and Derek Dellekamp deal with the question what can be learned from Mexico. They talk about how they each deal with Mexican unpredictability. Schleich and Dellekamp discover that living conditions in Mexico are closer to global reality than in Switzerland. The comparison to Switzerland is constantly present in the conversation due to the origin of Jachen.

«conclusion for what can we learn from Mexico: a constant chaos is a constant creation» «most of the people in the world live in a reality like Mexico» «it’s a reality that does not allow you to ignore - it’s in your face» «the way to kind of respond to this is to protect the nature of the solution that we proposed is to make sure that it is just done with the absolutely necessary elements» «the best way to control this is to give up the control»

1. Left Jachen Schleich, right Derek Dellekamp 2. Models of the replacement buildings after the earthquake 3. Casa de Suiza 4. Studio Roel 5-6. Santurio Señor de Tula 7. Universidad IESEC © Dellekamp Schleich



Further links: - Instagram by Dellekamp + Schleich: https://www.instagram.com/p/BpaCfEHHkaf/


#DellekampSchleich #Conversation

© LEARNING FROM MEXICO 2019 by Laure Nashed

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

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