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Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing

Water Purification Plant, Garden & Concert Hall in Tijuana

Part 1 Project 2000
Max Dewdney
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
The key aim of the project is to create a narrative of place and ‘placelessness'. The scheme consists of a subterranean performance hall and archive, irrigated gardens, folly and a reservoir. The site is on the old flood plane between the eastern edge of the inner city of Tijuana (border of Mexico/US) and the river culvert that runs north - south through the city. The main axis is east to west. The archive provides an archeology of the site and is adjacent to the concert hall which lies underground, creating an acoustic retreat from the urban soundscape of the city. Natural light filters into the hall from above. Rain water is collected in a chamber which also functions to control, amplify and direct sound. The gardens form an urban oasis and are situated beyond the concert hall to the north east, occuping the largest surface of the site. The hyacinth pool acts as the locus of the various gardens. Unfiltered flood water is pumped under the road to the hyacinth pool and used as the source of irrigation for the scheme. The reservoir lies at the farthest eastern point of the site at the bottom of the existing river culvert.

Max Dewdney

Max Dewdney's work has been exceptional; rigorous, potent and mature. The work developed a personal language that strongly binds tectonic concerns, appropriate technology and means of representation.

His project is for a water purification plant, garden and concert hall in Tijuana (Mexico) demonstrates an impressive ability and subtle mastery of architectural form. As an archaeologist of the future working with a city with no history other than transitory existence, Max treats the drawing surface as a site. Excavating the surface and making it spatial. At first embossing, cutting small incisions, folding space together. Later on with bravura, and in the final stages, transforming this into a narrative that can be unfolded and experienced. The result is a landscape, complete and rich. Revealing submerged infrastructure, landscape and building elements as integral, interrelated components. The modified ground plane holds the project together, incorporating sequences of public uses, while addressing contemporary conditions relevant to a city in rapid transition.

The project has an embedded political dimension. It exemplifies everyday actions, sounds (contra the silent sterile spaces across the border in the USA), smells, walking or passing across various thresholds. Structured as narrative and phenomenological experience. In effect compressing the borderlands and crossing points into everyday life spaces, narratives and qualities.

• Page Hits: 14748         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001