“I am a man full of dreams and uncertainties,” says Gerardo Galicia, CEO andArchitectural Designer at Mexico City’s ACCIDENTAL Estudio de Arquitectura. “When Susana Pantoja and I started the studio about 9 years ago, we had only one commission and we had to double our shifts, working very early to very late. It was quite demanding, but yet so satisfying. We got a second commission and, from then on, we just kept on working and trusting that our work would speak for itself. We didn’t have any training on how to run a business, but we relied on our honesty, responsibility and hard work. We were lucky that our clients and team supported us.”
In the years since, the practice has worked on dozens of residential, commercial, cultural, corporate, mixed-use and public space projects. One of the key inspirations that ties the portfolio together, Gerardo says, lies in the embracing of happy accidents in the creative process; exploring opportunities to discover the fortuitous and the beauty in the imperfect. “I am very passionate about flexibility in design. A big priority in our approach is how our buildings could be reinvented in the future for new generations, or when societal dynamics flow in a different way. Perhaps nothing changes, but it gives me peace to look for ways to add value to our architecture.”
An example of this kind of architectural reinvention, Gerardo says, is ACCIDENTAL’s 2017 project, The Laboratory for Material Research, Development and Inspection. “I knew that we needed to offer something more than just a series of rooms for the Laboratory’s testing. The whole design was conceived to offer the possibility to reinvent both buildings of the complex as big, open spaces with natural sunlight and ventilation, surrounded by a big park. It is ideal to become, for instance, a contemporary art venue, due to the need for large-scale spaces for some works.”
This desire for architectural flexibility is present throughout Gerardo’s work, as is an imperative to embrace the power of nature. “In our project Oriente 7 16, our programme was to design 8 apartments with 2 bedrooms each but, instead, we wanted to offer the families the possibility to choose from 3 typologies, and to give them the opportunity to use their space as a single open loft or studio. I like to offer a final design that is still alive, inviting exploration of the multiple possibilities of the use of the space in relation to nature.”
Gerardo says that Oriente 7 16 is indicative of ACCIDENTAL’s multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to architecture and design. “We strongly believe in the power of the art, in all of its manifestations".
Our contemporary artist, Rachael Abrams, was one of our first friends to bring her art and our architecture together, as her exploration of how humans communicate verbally and non-verbally welcomes and challenges, in a way, visitors and residents of the lobby of Oriente 7 16... We brought solutions that did not yet exist in that neighbourhood: exposed concrete, steel structure and high ceilings. In a way, we brought a building that did not belong there. But, accompanied by art and nature, the
building was well-received and the apartments sold quickly, so we knew we didn’t need to limit ourselves to more ordinary solutions. “As architects, I strongly believe that nature is our best ally. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala: its Lake Atitlán, mountains and active volcanos. Those are powerful atmospheres. They awaken sensitive fibres and make space for the essence to become regulated. Nature plus the right architectural decisions can really bring a great experience and a happy, peaceful feeling to a place.”
ACCIDENTAL works hard to explore the nature of sites, Gerardo says, in both their overt conditions, but also their more subtle needs.
“In Colorines, the complex is silent; homogenous with spaces for contemplation, peaceful reflection and calmness, looking to counterbalance a very hectic and noisy direct context.”
This is just one example of how Gerardo makes space to continue “meditating on what being an architect means for me.” Since 2019, Gerardo has been working on Post-Industrial Atlampa: New Gateway to Downtown Mexico City, a project which combines life, sleep and work in the same inclusive and economically sustainable area.
“Mexico City is a very complex and alive metropolis. For Atlampa, the lack of infrastructure, the great connectivity and location, and the demand for housing, were only a few conditions that inspired a micro-city that has it all.
Atlampa Postindustrial is, in essence, an invitation to really deeply study major urban interventions.”
The roots of the project date back to Gerardo’s alma mater, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he worked with his thesis professors to analyse the neighbourhood and propose specific urban strategies and architectural interventions to support its development.
It was an open call for the Lac Cities Challenge that prompted Gerardo to return to the project years later.
“I decided to give it a try and knock at the doors of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the Ministry of Economy of Mexico City and the private sector. After we won the competition, we knew the challenge had just started, as the dynamics of Mexican politics are quite complex.”
Outside of the practice, Gerardo is an avid footballer, a hobby which he says has helped him to learn about life.
“When I am playing, I taste freedom, self-expression, respect for others, responsibility, magic and the beauty of teamwork. When the game starts, my essence enjoys the space.” He is also a passionate student of the world who says he has enjoyed finding new dimensions of himself through travel and immersion in other cultures.
As he looks to the future, Gerardo says “I’m feeling very open with energy for new opportunities. I want to explore my own country and others; to combine yoga, meditation and tantra with the world of design. ACCIDENTAL is getting ready for a new exciting chapter and Post-Industrial Atlampa is still a big question mark on how it may materialize or not.
But, still, I feel satisfied to plant a seed, to act against corruption, to aim for responsible urban interventions and to authentically look after vulnerable social groups. I’m looking forward to love, playing fair, giving space to my essence, learning from others and feeling grateful for the gifts of nature, day by day.”
To connect with Gerardo and learn more about his work, visit him on LinkedIn, follow him on Instagram, or email ACCIDENTAL at firstname.lastname@example.org.