Matthew Avallone proposes ‘inhabitable park-scape’ for togetherness in Tijuana

Our Next Generation 2022 showcase shines a light on 22 outstanding graduates from around the globe, in seven creative fields. Here, we profile architecture graduate Matthew Avallone, from the Royal College of Art, UK

Moments Of Congregation
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Matthew Avallone explores notions of displacement and reclamation of land in his graduate project ‘La Sagrada Familia: The Collective Unification of Tijuana’s Displaced Youth’.

The Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate’s thesis was subsequently nominated for a slew of awards, including RIBA’s Silver Medal, The Architect’s Journal Student Prize, RCA’s Head of Programme’s Prize, and RCA’s Image/Drawing Prize. 

Matthew Avallone's Axonometric drawing of the site ‘La Sagrada Familia: The Collective Unification of Tijuana’s Displaced Youth

Axonometric drawing of the site ‘La Sagrada Familia: The Collective Unification of Tijuana’s Displaced Youth’, project by Matthew Avallone

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Avallone draws on his own upbringing. He grew up in San Diego, on the US side of Tijuana’s border, which is one of the most hostile international borders in the world for asylum seekers, he says. ‘I observed first hand the divide created in this context and the resulting physical and emotional displacement.’

His project zooms into the youth of Tijuana through La Sagrada Familia (‘Holy Family’), a group of artists, designers, and musicians who occupy and repurpose empty infrastructures across the city for artist studios, fashion shows, exhibitions, parties and protests.

The design is a 10,000 sq m vacant ‘inhabitable park-scape where DIY occupation manifests, allowing for uninhibited congregations, parties, protests, music, art and self-expression’.

It is realised through a choreographic ‘participatory excavation of the site’, explains Avallone. This digging ‘acts as a form of subversion to the politically charged locale’ as a mirrored inflatable canopy floats above the structure.

Matthew Avallone's vision of ceremonial gathering space for Tijuana

The drawings elaborately distort the horizon and site in such a way that structure and land become ritualistic excavations of liberation, not bound by border politics and therefore ‘unifying displaced youth and fighting feelings of limbo’

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The drawings elaborately distort the horizon and site in such a way that structure and land become ritualistic excavations of liberation, not bound by border politics and therefore ‘unifying displaced youth and fighting feelings of limbo’. 

Avallone is currently based in New York City. His research asks ‘what does it mean for architecture to be human centred?’ as he aims to bridge holistic and empathetic architectural design methods. He hopes to incorporate ‘localised research and relevant human stories into a project, while maintaining the design and artistic integrity’ in his practice. 

Dream collaborators: Food New York and Playlab in Los Angeles, in line with an open, community-led approach.

Paired images depicting scenes from Matthew Avallone architecture thesis

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Drawing of design from Matthew Avallone architecture thesis

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Drawings from Matthew Avallone architecture thesis

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Cross section from Matthew Avallone architecture thesis

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Render image from Matthew Avallone thesis

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Render from Matthew Avallone thesis

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Render from Matthew Avallone architecture thesis

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

mattavallone.com (opens in new tab)