By Rachel Ang
By Rachel Ang
Located between the mountains and the sea, on the outskirts of Puerto Escondido on the Mexican coast of Oaxaca, is Casa Wabi, the vision of Brooklyn-based, Mexican-born artist, Bosco Sodi and the design of Japanese architect, Tadao Ando.
The first inklings of Casa Wabi were born a decade ago, when Sodi was undertaking a residency in Tokyo. During this time he became acquainted with the concept of wabi-sabi – a distinctly Japanese aesthetic derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence: impermanence, suffering and emptiness. Wabi-sabi privileges the beauty found in imperfection, asymmetry and asperity; wabi-sabi strives for humility, modesty and intimacy. During this time Sodi was also introduced to the brutally austere architecture of Tadao Ando. He approached the architect, asking if he would design a studio for him. Ando declined, merely stating that he was very busy.
Then, in 2006, Sodi’s father discovered an idyllic site: a 90-acre stretch of deserted beach surrounded by farms and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range on one side, and the ocean on the other. Bosco was immediately taken with the location and started imagining a retreat for himself and his family – designed, of course, by Ando. He met again with the architect in Los Angeles; this time Ando took the job.
Casa Wabi comprises two studios, six artist residencies, two studios, a 740 square metre gallery space and educational facility, as well as a 67-acre botanical garden which will eventually become home to an outdoor collection of contemporary sculpture.
The complex is itself a giant immersive sculptural work – the stark and severe work of a master of concrete; a sharp contrast to the wild and fecund natural beauty of the landscape in which it is embedded. The design of the artist residences marries Ando’s trademark modern concrete language with the local vernacular palapa – a kind of Mexican pavilion with open sides and a thatched roof of dried palm leaves.
Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of Casa Wabi is Sodi’s ambitions to give back to the local community. Half of the four million Mexicans who call the state of Oaxaca home live in poverty. Sodi envisions a radical educational program for Casa Wabi, particularly focusing on local youth. “The children in these communities have no contact with art. The idea is to bring them to see the studios, the nursery, the gardens and to open their understanding of life”.
G. Protasio Tagle 41, Piso 1, San Miguel Chapultepec, Miguel Hidalgo, 11850, Mexico.
Photography by Fernanda Romandia via .cntraveller.com