His work reflects this dynamic upbringing, with influences from Modernist architects like Geoffrey Bawa, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Lina Bo Bardi melding with regional inspiration, such as a traditional Bavarian country home or the contemporary architecture scene in Mexico City.
Von Werz’s latest project, Baja Club on the Baja California peninsula, brings this unique melange of influences to life. The hotel, developed in collaboration with interior designers Jaune, is housed in a 20th-century Spanish Colonial-style villa that connects to a new four-story annex via a concrete spiral staircase. As von Werz tells us, “the project aims to give a modern twist on Mexico’s rich tradition of colors, textures, and craftsmanship.” By using local materials in a fresh, streamlined manner, “we were able to anchor the project in its locale and tie together the identity of the old and new components.”
I’d say as an architect I am 25% dreamer and 75% realist. Of course, it’s important to think big and imagine a better future, but it takes pragmatism and persistence to make those a reality.
My cultural discovery during the pandemic was the absolute joy of rewatching movies and rereading books. One of my go-to’s has become Akira Kurosawa’s filmography. I think in challenging times we yearn for the familiar as a kind of nostalgic comfort food, and despite our culture’s obsession with novelty, repeat experiences allow us to delve deeper and discover nuances that we missed the first time around.
Most of my work week goes into putting out fires so it’s really on the weekend, when my phone stops ringing and the emails stop pouring in, that I get into my zone and can lose myself in what I really love doing. Of course, it’s nice to occasionally switch off as well, but I feel people overrate the whole work-life balance thing. Sometimes you just need to push yourself a bit more if you want to create something extraordinary.
My hope is that our experiences over the last year help us overcome our tribal mentality and realize that as humans we all share the same boat.
My sustainability heroes are the many professionals who are currently championing the adaptive reuse of old and obsolete buildings as a form of conservation of resources. Demolition should become an absolute last resort. As the Italian post-war architect Carlo Scarpa once put it: “Our duty is to give buildings a new lease of life so that they may be able to live today and tomorrow.”
Like most, I cut down on flying due to the pandemic. While it wasn’t so much a voluntary lifestyle change, of course, it did help me realize how avoidable air travel often is and appreciate the virtues of local travel all the more.
I think we will increasingly choose simplicity over luxury. Or rather, simplicity and authenticity will be our new luxury.
Photography by: César Béjar, Rory Gardiner, Florian Holzherr, Vicky Reyes, Andrés Carnalla, Rodrigo Chapa, Enrique Macias