Espacio Escultórico, a Sculpture on Lava

Espacio Escultórico
Federico Silva, Helen Escobedo, Hersúa, Manuel Felguérez, Mathias Goeritz y Sebastián
Pedregal de San Ángel, México
19° 19′ 14″ N, 99° 12′ 33″ W

The Espacio Escultórico is a monumental circular sculpture, 120m in diameter, located on a bed of volcanic rock, south of Mexico City.

Build and sculpt with the landscape

At the end of the 1970s the Centro Cultural Universitario (University Cultural Center) was built south of the famous Ciudad Universitaria (University City) of Mexico. It is located in the neighborhood of El Pedregal de San Ángel, a residential colonia in the south of Mexico City. The urbanization of this neighborhood was carried out under the impulse of Luis Barragán, in the mid 1940s. However, the architect wanted the urbanization of the site to be in harmony with its ecosystem. Indeed, the neighborhood of el Pedragal is located on a lava field formed by an eruption of the nearby volcano Xitle, around 5000 BC. Thereby the unfamiliar and deserted land became a privileged but fragile place.

In 1977, the rector of the Centro Cultural Universitario announced the launch of the project Centro de Espacio Escultórico, a sculptural space center. Under the direction of Federico Silva, the objective is to combine the aesthetics of the plastic arts and its geometric lines with the natural environment. Located in the ecological reserve of el Pedragal, the Espacio Escultóric continues the idea inspired by Barragán. 
The intervention in the landscape aims to invite 6 sculptors Federico Silva, Helen Escobedo, Hersúa, Manuel Felguérez, Mathias Goeritz and Sebastián and to stage a contemplation of the beauty inside and outside the place. The project is largely influenced by minimal and land art combined with pre-Hispanic circular structures and their representations of the cosmos.

The volcanic ring

The monumental work is built on a natural ground surface of el Pedragal, a frozen rock formed by the solidified lava of the Xitle. This surface is encircled by a circular platform that rests on volcanic stone walls. On this platform are arranged 64 triangular modules, closing the sea of lava. The polyhedral prisms with a rectangular base measure 9x3m and are 4m high, allowing only a glimpse of the outside landscape between its interstices (1.75m inside and 2.67m outside). Only the space at the level of the 4 cardinal points is more consequent. The separation between inside and outside is clearly marked by these geometrical volumes that form, like a telluric mandala, a space of 92.78m in diameter (120m outside), conducive to introspection and contemplation.
The simple circular shape dialogues with the organic and natural forms of the solidified lava rock within it. The exchange between earth, sky and landscape is synthesized in this geometric ring.

Espacio Escultórico UNAM
Espacio Escultórico UNAM
Espacio Escultórico UNAM

This collective work is also accompanied by 6 sculptures created by the 6 artists.
•  Las Serpientes del Pedregal y Ocho Conejos de Federico Silva
•  Ave Dos de Hersúa
•  Coatl by Helen Escobedo
•  Colotl de Sebastián
•  Corona del Pedregal by Mathias Goeritz
•  Variant of Manuel Felguérez’s Kepler’s Llave

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