lamesadevenn: From Start to Finish

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By Seth Biderman / Published by Dwell
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In this series, trace the evolution of lamesadevenn, an international collaborative of architects, product designers and communication specialists who are redefining how and why we design. They’ve brought in journalist Seth Biderman and illustrator Nacho Durá to chronicle their “living projects,” like the Rancho—a live/work space designed to foster community and sustainable values in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Part One: How it Began

Forget the architectural academics bespeckled in thick-rimmed glasses, arguing over theoretical issues or self-serving competitions—this isn’t a standard story, and these aren’t the usual suspects.

Standing ankle-deep in snow, buzzing from the ideas of his fellow dreamers, Alba peered beyond the yellow spread of city lights, and realized this was it, this forgotten corner of the American Empire was where the Bauhaus spirit could be invoked.

 

Part Two: The Sweet Spot

In late 2010, lamesadevenn hooked up with La Mesita, an emerging social profit organization in New Mexico. The convergence of spirits and philosophy was too compelling to ignore. Lawyer Todd Lopez, the driving force behind La Mesita, and lamesadevenn architect and project coordinator Christian Alba began searching for a site to make their dreams reality.

Part Three: Spare Change

Spatially, lamesadevenn planned two types of rooms: Below the natural terrain would be private suites structured for quiet reflection and study; above grade would be the larger public gathering rooms for chatting, sharing thoughts, and generating new ideas.

A joyous moment: The site that Alba and Lopez discovered, on the developing southside of Santa Fe, offered the space, the views, and a promising pack of neighbors. The land also came with a well, utility lines, an access drive and very liberal building covenants. If lamesadevenn had as much money as it did ideas, they would’ve bought the place on the spot.

Part Four: At the Drawing Board

Site in hand, lamesadevenn began developing a design and program that would be cutting-edge and strikingly original—and of questionable feasibility.