Time space existence: Tatiana Bilbao

Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao on making places and spaces by people, for people

The film – preceding an exhibition of the same name at next year’s Venice Architecture Biennale – is an insightful survey of Bilbao’s practice; a profile in miniature that concisely sums up her holistic, socially-conscious approach to architecture. ‘Our studio’s not about the form or the shape of the building, it’s about what it does to people,’ she explains. And while the resulting work is visually resplendent – stark, modernist and objectively beautiful – form is never prioritised over function, no matter the mazuma involved. People and provenance are all.

This is translated into richly contemporary projects, made using locally available materials and with hand labour in place of machines. It’s an approach, Bilbao explains, that takes her practice back ‘to the roots of architecture… making places and spaces by people for people’. There’s an overarching socio-political slant to all this (if that wasn’t already clear). The past 50 years, Bilbao continues, have seen the role of the architect surrendered to capitalism, becoming largely estranged from social housing. It’s a notion that is at odds with her studio’s ethos: creating spaces that specifically enhance the lives of their users.

‘“Time Space and Existence” means architecture, and architecture at its best,’ she says, in way of conclusion. ‘When you are able to wrap all those things and orchestrate them beautifully, you’re doing the best architecture you can do.’ §

See each film in the ‘Time-Space-Existence’ video series first exclusively on Wallpaper.com. ‘Time-Space-Existence’ opens at the Venice Architecture Biennale in May 2018. For more information, visit the Tatiana Bilbao website, the GAA Foundation website, the European Cultural Centre website and the PLANE-SITE website

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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).