Land and Context - An insight into Mexican contemporary architecture with Barry Bergdoll, Javier Sordo Madaleno and Fernando Sordo Madaleno. Tuesday 28 May at 19.00

Regular price £15.00

Contemporary Mexican architecture has attracted strong critical acclaim internationally.  This has happened on the back of a resurging interest in Latin American Modernism and there is now a real excitement around the many young architects from the region making their mark. 

Barry Bergdoll, Professor of Art History at Columbia University (New York), who curated MoMA’s celebrated Latin America in Construction exhibition will be joined by Javier Sordo Madaleno and his son, Fernando Sordo Madaleno, Director of Sordo Madaleno’s newly established London studio, to discuss this phenomenon.  Fernando represents the third generation of his family’s practice that was founded 85 years ago by his grandfather in Mexico City. 

Barry Bergdoll, Javier Sordo Madaleno and Fernando Sordo Madaleno will focus on the traditions that inform practice in Mexico today and the way in which emerging practitioners are looking to the wisdom often present in vernacular architecture to address the environmental challenges we now face including the availability of materials.  The relationship between context, climate and culture will be an important theme in the current Sordo Madaleno projects shown as part of the conversation. Another topic that Fernando Sordo Madaleno is fascinated by is the architectural expression of the land as felt in ancient ruins for example.

Mexico is the fifth most biodiverse country in the world and the themes of resilience and relationship to land are interesting ones to observe in the context of the country’s architecture.  All the more so, as architects tackle climate change related challenges that beg us to rethink our relationship with the earth and how we inhabit it and even embrace it, as is increasingly the case in Sordo Madaleno’s most recent projects.

The talk coincides with the publication of a new book about the work of Sordo Madaleno edited by Barry Bergdoll.  Published by Turner, the title of the book is Shaping Transformation and, as Bergdoll writes in its preface, it places Sordo Madaleno’s projects in the context of perpetual change, ‘…taking up the theme that architectural projects shape and are shaped by their context and by the very flux of transformation that is modernity’s primary characteristic.’ In a practice of three generations working during the 20th and 21st centuries, it is an exceptional opportunity to witness this type of continued transformation within the life of one studio.

About the speakers

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, where he has been on the faculty since 1985.  A specialist in the history of modern architecture, he served from 2007 to 2014 as Chief Curator of Architecture & Design at the Museum of Modern Art (NY).  He curated there, among other exhibitions  Mies In Berlin (2001), Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity (2009-2010), Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront (2009-10), Henri Labrouste: Structure brought to Light (2013), Latin America in Construction : Architecture 1955-1980 (2015) and Frank Lloyd Wright at 150 : Unpacking the Archive (2017).  He organized exhibitions at the Musée d’Orsay and the Caisse des Monuments Historiques in Paris, the Centre Canadien d’Architecture in Montréal, and the Banamax Foundation in Mexico City.   He is the author of the widely used textbook European Architecture: 1750-1890 in the Oxford History of Art (2000) and monographs on Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Mies van der Rohe, Léon Vaudoyer, and (as editor) Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions (2017).  He has written frequently on the relationship of architecture and photography.  He is at work on a volume on the history of exhibiting architecture, derived from the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2013.

Fernando Sordo Madaleno studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana graduating in 2014 with honours. He was born in Mexico City in 1991 and currently lives in London.

As the third generation of architects at Sordo Madaleno, Fernando has played a pivotal role in shaping the firm's legacy since assuming the role of Director of Architecture in 2016.

Fernando's influence extends beyond borders, notably evidenced by his instrumental role in the establishment and leadership of the newly inaugurated London studio. Here, his approach, grounded in meticulous research and a profound sensitivity to context, culture, and climate, has revolutionized the design process.

His designs have earned widespread acclaim, winning in prestigious international architecture competitions across diverse regions, including the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Fernando's spirit and commitment to excellence continue to redefine the boundaries within the global architectural community.

Javier Sordo Madaleno, born in Mexico City in 1956, is renowned for his contributions to the architecture field, Javier has garnered international acclaim, marked by numerous prestigious awards and his prolific career spans the design of approximately 280 projects.

He is member in key architecture associations. Particularly as an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), honorary Fellow of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) and an honorary professorship at the International Academy of Architecture (IAA).

Together with his three sons, he established the Sordo Madaleno Foundation, dedicated to leveraging architecture as a catalyst for social and educational development. Through this foundation, Javier champions transformative initiatives aimed at fostering positive change in communities, leaving an indelible mark on the built environment and society at large.

About the event

Doors will open at 18.30 for a Museum viewing. The talk takes place in the Library Dining Room from 19.00, and will be followed at 20.00 by a drinks reception in the South Drawing Room on the first floor. You will have the opportunity to purchase signed copies of Shaping Transformation  (card payment only).

Please enter via Number 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields where we will have a list of names on the door. Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107.


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