The site-specific installation is located on the beach in Puerto Escondido at the site of Casa Wabi – an artist’s retreat and art centre that Japanese architect Ando completed for Bosco Sodi’s Casa Wabi Foundation arts charity in 2014.
Called Atlantes, Sodi’s installation comprises stacks of reddish bricks arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. Identical spaces are left around each to create a symmetrical arrangement that draws on the concept of a chessboard.
“I wanted to do 64 cubes because I wanted to use the same structure as chess,” Sodi told Dezeen. “I wanted it to be very mathematical. The cube is a completely human form; you do not find the cube in nature.”
Each of the 64, two-metre-high blocks is formed from 1,600 clay bricks. Sodi handmade the bricks with a team of local craftsman, making a total of 102,000 pieces.
To make the bricks, the team extracted raw earth and mixed it with water and sand to form clay, and then shaped and smoothed by hand. The blocks were left to air-dry in the sun at the artist’s studio next door, which was also created by Ando.
“When Ando designed the foundation, he also designed the studio for me and the observatory next to it,” Sodi said.
Once hardened, the bricks were fired in a traditional Oaxacan kiln near the beach site that consists of local wood, jacaranda seeds and coconut shells. The firing process imbues the bricks with terracotta hues, as well as green and black streaks.
“This concept, of getting materials that come from the earth in all of the four elements – earth, fire water, air – to form clay, and after time, to bring it back to its origins [is important to me],” Sodi said.
Atlantes took over two years to complete, and the longevity with its surrounding is well-planned.
When viewed from an aerial perspective, the cubes merge with the sandy landscape to form a near-perfect grid. Cacti and other low-lying bushes surround the project, with the Pacific Ocean and mountains in the distance.
“I wanted to do this completely human form, but slowly they [the bricks] will be deteriorating and the form will become organic again, like small mountains or abstract figures over many years,” said Sodi.
“[Eventually] they will become mountains of clay that are completely abstract and random, but in a very human way of arranging them.”
Casa Wabi, which also goes by the name Bosco Studio and House, is directed by Patricia Martin – best known as the curator of Latin America’s largest private art collection: Colección Júmex.
Casa Wabi has become a new centre for the local community of Puerto Escondido, as well as a popular retreat for artists.
The surrounding gardens are designed by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach of TAX Architects, while nearby are a number of pavilions by well-known architects like Álvaro Siza, Kengo Kuma, and Solano Benítez.
Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s 31 states, as well as the name of the municipality’s capital city.
Other projects in the region include a beach house with a thatched roof by Baaq in Puerto Escondido, and a contemporary concrete holiday home by Ludwig Godefroy and Emmanuel Picault in Playa Zicatela.
Photography is by Solano Benítez.