Architect: TEN Arquitectos/Enrique Norten
Location: Irapuato, Guanajuato. Mexico
Project Team: Enrique Norten, Salvador Arroyo, Victoria Grossi, Verónica Chávez, Carlos Marin, Mateo Riestra, Ernesto Orrante, Ricardo Orozco, Alejandro Mantecón, Gabriela Puente, Dionisio Arras, Uvaldo Arenas
Structure: Colinas de Buen, SA de CV, Ing. Óscar de Buen
MEP: DIIN, SA de CV. Ing. Alejandro Borboa
Client: National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity
Year of Design: 2005-2007
Year of Construction: 2007-2010
Photographs: Luis Gordoa
Located in the Bajio, Mexico’s breadbasket, the National Laboratory of Genomics is an extension of the Institute of Agricultural Studies. The location and geology of the site—an empty field with a fault line deep below—gave rise to the metaphor that defines the form of the building: an inscribed line divides the program in half, with the laboratories on one side and the administrative and auditorium spaces on the other, and also delineates the public areas. This constructed fault line forms an intimate civic space that connects the different programs.
The project is nestled into a built-up artificial topography, a new terrain that manifests the nature of the work inside the institution. The laboratories are absorbed into the site, evident predominantly as a series of terraces that modulate transitions between interior and exterior, lab and field. Voids cut into the landscape create secluded patios, bringing light into the building. The embedded laboratories provide private and isolated spaces for research and also insulated and easily controlled environments for testing. In contrast, the administrative and auditorium spaces assert the presence of the technical and the social.
The transparency and precision of the facades bring the landscape into the building, yet the contrast between structure and surroundings is an uncompromising reminder of the role of engineering and high technology in the study of genomics. The almost camouflaged effect of the entire project gently integrates building and site; at the same time, it lends an air of intrigue to the activities within.