Gabriela Carrillo’s plans to shake the system

Mexican architect Gabriela Carrillo – tipped by compatriot Frida Escobedo as one of 25 creative leaders of the future for Wallpaper’s 25th Anniversary Issue – plots to change the system

Matamoros Market. A large structure with a triangular red roof.
Matamoros Market. Photographer: Onnis Luque
(Image credit: Onnis Luque)

Dynamic and prolific, Mexican architect Gabriela Carrillo is passionate about her business. ‘I am in love with my work,’ she says. ‘I have a six-year-old boy, and he and the city and country where I live are my guidelines in my work. I am a determined feminist, completely against traditional practices that prevail in our patriarchal system. I believe my work can do something against that, but not in a negative sense – in a constructive way. I grew up in a country which is always in crisis, so I love to translate this into opportunities. [I am] always thinking of the future, that I might not see, but my kid will.’

After working at Mauricio Rocha’s studio in Mexico City since 2001, Carrillo made partner in 2011. Six years later, she set up her own studio, Taller Gabriela Carrillo, and in 2019 she also co-founded the collective C733, a platform to focus specifically on public projects. Museums, hotels, residential and community work are part of her ever-expanding portfolio. Her rich and layered career has not gone unnoticed, winning her several awards in her field, including Woman Architect of the Year 2017 from the Academy of Architecture of France. 

Habita Hotel Cuatro Cuatros, Ensenada, by Taller. Freestanding wooden hotel rooms in the wilderness.

Habita Hotel Cuatro Cuatros, Ensenada, by Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo. Photographer: Onnis Luque.

(Image credit: Onnis Luque)

Gabriela Carrillo and ‘meaningful’ architecture

Carrillo feels especially strongly about projects that are ‘meaningful’. She mentions as an example working on a library for blind and visually impaired people. ‘It forced me to be aware of the strength of the senses,’ she says. These, and elements such as the light, the void, nature are all key in her designs.

Matamoros Market, a public space in the namesake Mexican city on the country’s northern borders, plays with notions of freedom and spatial flexibility, and works with the region’s climatic conditions. ‘The most powerful tools of architecture are priceless,’ she says. As for architecture's biggest challenge at the moment? ‘To reinvent its meanings,’ she concludes.

Deans Building School of Commercial Banking by Taller. A wooden walkway with a wooden door along it, trees next to it and a staircase at the end of it.

Deans Building School of Commercial Banking by Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Interactive Observatory of Cracking and Subsidence, San Sebastián Tecolotitla by Estudio RX.

Interactive Observatory of Cracking and Subsidence, San Sebastián Tecolotitla by Estudio RX. Photographer: Rafael Gamo.

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)


A version of this article appears in Wallpaper’s October 2021, 25th Anniversary Issue (W*270), on newsstands now and available to subscribers – 12 digital issues for $12/£12/€12.

Meet more creative leaders of the future nominated by architect Frida Escobedo here.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).