Free Architecture

Adam Wiseman

2015 - Ongoing

Much of Mexico´s rural houses are self-built structures with little or no regulation; architecture built by non-architects. Adam Wiseman has coined the term “free architecture” to describe these houses which in many cases are built with remittances (money sent by Mexicans back home from the US). Peppering the rural landscape and urban working-class neighbourhoods, these buildings tend to reflect the aspirations of their builders. They are financed over time by undocumented immigrants living and working in the US, and are inspired by their new surroundings. Rarely do two structures look alike: each has features from a cross-section of cultures and historical periods, the houses may be inspired by American suburbia, Hollywood movies or Disney fantasies.

Often, these houses are left empty or remain in a permanent state of construction. More like trophies than homes, they function as substitutes for their owners, who have left to seek economic opportunity across the northern border. In the spirit of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas (1972) and Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque (1969-72), Free Architecture lends importance to a feature of the built environment that might otherwise be dismissed as an eyesore.

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