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Mexas V1.01: Opium Factory

Part 2 Project 2010
Jamie Rodgers
Birmingham City University | UK
A future scenario set in 2030 that explores the notion of borders and territories with specific reference to the American/Mexico border. It investigates the idea of consumerism and the exploitation of the Mexicans by the Americans since they colonized the area with regards to socioeconomic, political and environmental issues.

Initial research comprised of studying the border utilising different media types in order to derive at a response. This included an historic overview coupled with an investigation into both micro and macro events at the border. Careful overlaying of this information with related text (Holloway, J - Take the world without taking power) identified themes of consumerism, exploitation, power, struggle and utopian visions such as the 'American Dream'.

These themes were implemented within this thesis project through various panoramic scenarios incorporating several factual characters. Investigation into the environmental impact of the Americans at the border opened up research into the voronoi geometry and the 'emergent architectural concept'.

Deriving at a deviant future scenario where a Mexican subculture is formed on the derelict land adjacent to California city prison. The subculture is established and sustained from an architectural device procured from found and discarded objects at the border. These found objects become the stimulus to the subculture where drugs are also declassified. The latter acts as pull factor to the Americans drawing in tourists to take advantage of the deviant culture and its relaxed governance.

The deviant culture utilises John Holloway’s principle that 'a utopian vision cannot exist when consumerism reigns'. Consequently, the subculture dismantles consumer products with the sum of its parts becoming the desired entities (emergent concept theory). These parts become the found objects and entities which inform the architecture and its associated spaces.

The device manifests into the architectural form which is derived from the emergent architectural concept and organic voronoi geometry. The cladding infill panels to the building envelop and the walls to the internal spaces are defined by found objects fusing with the architectural form. Thus creating an economy and architectural language that is symbolic of the notion that ‘one’s mans waste is another man’s gold’.

Jamie Rodgers

In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World, and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful?

The project started with a critique of the existing USA and Mexico boarder exploring on a micro and macro scale the existing social, economic and philosophical conditions which exists and how this overlap and interact.
This analysis developed a series of conceptual generators to be tested in the project. The main project creates a master plan for the area which is based around the development of three communities each with their own specific set of
Characters and terms of reference generated from the initial analysis, - deviant, subversive and Utopian.

Jamie’s project then focused on the deviant community which generated a site specific brief for an opium factory and living settlement. Its characters would occupy this and begin to develop the architecture. The main architectural framework was developed through an indigenous species of fly. Through a detailed analysis on the wing pattern on a micro and macro scale this created a series of design generators which were overlaid on the three sites and modified to the specific site conditions to create a dynamic architectural response.

The success of the project is through its rigour and careful editing of the project through the concept and design development process. Through the intelligent selection of resource material this gave the project a strong theoretical position with which Jamie developed a rich, textured and layered project.

It should be noted that Jamie is a part time student, balancing work at MAKE 4 days per week with one day attendance at University. Because of this his achievements are all the more remarkable.


Mr Kevin W Singh
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