August 7, 2009
This project comes from Marina Nicollier, a recent graduate of Rice University’s M. Arch program. The project was developed in Charles Waldheim’s studio at Rice University in the spring of ’08, and focuses on new methods of industrial manufacturing in a diverse cultural and environmental climate.
The project brief was to imagine the future use of a maquiladora car manufacturing facility outside of Monterrery Mexico. Students could make individual decisions about what that future use might be, but given the current state of automobile industry most students chose a scenario where car manufacture was either completely or partially replaced with a secondary function.
Marina proposed that the car manufacturing facility, faced with impending economic crisis (this global market hadn’t hit yet), offset its sinking revenue with a butterfly haven. Monterrey, she discovered, sits almost directly in the yearly migratory path of the monarch butterfly and she’s hoping that with a little attraction, shade, water and food, butterflies and the pursuant lepidopterists and enthusiasts will make a stop at her facility.
The main attracting device for the Monarchs is a pixelated roof-garden planted with a variety of seasonals and perennials amid a landscape of sloped, butterfly-wing-shaped landing platforms.
The arrangement of plantings and platforms can be manipulated seasonally and other amenities can be added to the platforms such as water and a canopy.
While the butterflies don’t directly assist with the manufacture of motor vehicles in Monterrey they do, or will, demonstrate a direct “value-add” to the company which may in fact allow them to continue production, keep jobs and help the local economy. All of which we might point out is probably ironically bad for the butterflies, but the insect kingdom will outlive us all anyway. All in all this project demonstrates exactly the kind of reciprocity that we seek in all architectural projects. This is designing with the animal, with the environment, with the things on hand and demonstrates real world responsible design.
[all images courtesy of Marina Nicollier]