Master PlanWe were invited to work on the Botanical Garden of the city of Culiacan, Mexico in June 2005. This garden was founded 25 years prior with the passion and private collection of Engineer Carlos Murillo, who successfully advocated for the local government to transform this land into a public park. The Garden quickly became a focal point for social life, and a highly cherished civic space for the citizens of Culiacan. At the beginning, our task was to analyze the existing site and to create a set of interventions to accommodate a new art program. The first step in our strategy was to understand the underlying principles in which the existing garden was founded, and then, to design a series of small buildings that could enhance the coexistence of all living entities in this habitat. In order to make our intervention to relate with the organic logics of the garden, we used a fractal drawing of the most emblematic species in the Garden, the Huanacaxtle tree, as inspiration for the layout of the masterplan.The new program required a broad range of spaces, including educational rooms, auditoriums (open and enclosed), a library, a greenhouse, exhibition areas, workshop rooms, offices, entrance pavilions, a coffee shop, service areas, etc. Our approach was to create compact pavilions with the minimum footprint possible, each dedicated to a specific program, thus creating different possibilities of relationships between buildings and allowing new activities to exist.The pavilions were designed in a single move using one single material, concrete. One single shell holding an activity, with only one material providing the structural and aesthetic definition needed. Lightweight concrete added with pellets proved to be our best ally, it was the only material readily available in the area capable of offering true protection against extreme exterior conditions, where temperatures often reached 40 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Our construction process began with the open-air auditorium, followed by the pavilions of the educational service area. After this phase, and in order to increase cost-efficiency, we adopted a concrete block construction solution while retaining our original design strategy. The third set of buildings accommodated additional service areas and facilities for employees, laboratories, and other programs to support the garden.Spanning almost 20 years, this is the longest ongoing project in our studio, our relationship with the garden has been an opportunity to constantly revisit ideas, experiment with the relationship between built environment, nature and art, and challenging our understanding of the role of the architect.Open Auditorium Like other service buildings within the garden, the focus is on nature, and the buildings themselves have a discreet appearance to provide services and framing spaces without becoming dominant presences. This simple space, defined by only three concrete walls, is covered only by the shade of the surrounding trees to provide a more comfortable environment for its users, giving the volume a more sculptural quality rather than an oversized presence.Educational Services The project was conceived as a supportive space for the educational and outreach activities promoted by the Botanical and Zoological Society of Culiacan. Spaces were needed that could adapt to the changing needs of the institution and provide a conducive environment for education, research, and knowledge dissemination on biodiversity and conservation. The building footprint, derived from the guiding layout of the garden, was divided into three different volumes with the intention of accommodating various groups simultaneously. This division of the program also creates moments of contact with the surroundings and outdoor spaces sheltered by the building itself. The inclined volumetric forms and organic configuration were designed to break away from the artificial orthogonality and better adapt to the environment, allowing for the preservation of as many species as possible. However, the choice of pure materials and the incorporation of large windows create a contrast that frames the surrounding nature while creating a sense of continuity between the interior and exterior, resulting in an immersive experience in nature even from within the building. Located in the center of the garden, this building becomes a crucial point in the visitors journey as it connects the research area with the rest of the garden, strengthening the interaction between different spaces and functions of the place.Laboratories The Laboratories constitute a set of buildings designed to house the services of the Botanical Garden. Their functioning is similar to Louis Kahn's "service spaces", as they enable the proper functioning of the entire garden. Although it is a service program, the aim was for all spaces to have a visual connection with the garden, and for users to be constantly aware of the context during their journey through the building. With this goal in mind, the programs were divided into independent volumes to allow for momentary yet impactful connections with the surroundings throughout users' daily journeys.North Entrance The North Entrance aimed to establish an initial contact that would convey the identity of the Garden as an accessible and community space. In this regard, the goal was to create a transition between the garden and the city, functioning not only as a meeting point prior to entry but also as an open space for interventions and activities defined by the visitors themselves, enriching the experience and reflecting the essence of the Garden as a place of connection with nature.South EntranceThis project emerged from two main needs. Firstly, it aimed to create a connecting node that would receive visitors from the city center. Secondly, it sought to provide suitable spaces to accommodate the various activities already carried out by the Botanical and Zoological Society of Culiacan, which lacked adequate spaces in the existing services of the garden. From a conceptual perspective, like the other projects in the garden, the aim was for the building to complement the landscape rather than impose itself. Therefore, the decision was made to divide the building into small pavilions to minimize the impact on the species in the northern Mexican collection within the garden. Additionally, this configuration allowed for a close connection between the user and the natural environment. An important aspect was to create an engaging journey of discovery for the proposed contemporary artworks in this space. This was achieved by locating the building volumes in relation to these artworks, allowing the paths to provide different approaches and interactions with them. The aim was for the journey itself to be an experience where visitors could discover and enjoy both nature and contemporary artworks in a harmonious environment.