In 2012 we built our Upcycling Pavilion that operated as the cafeteria of Expo CIHAC, the largest architecture and construction exhibition in Latin America that takes place every year in Mexico City. It was a self-promoted project, built with 5,000 soda crates that aimed to serve as an example of how to accomplish a sustainable pavilion that won’t end in the trash once the exhibition was over, like the rest of the pavilions. When the expo culminated, the crates were returned to the soda company to continue its original use and function: to carry sodas.
Our Upcycling Pavilion caught the attention of the government personnel of the Mexican State of Chihuahua who visited the exhibition in 2012. They were so impressed by it that they invited us to do a similar intervention in the Annual Book Fair in the City of Juarez. Our only requirements were 5,000 soda crates and a group of 30 architecture students to help build the pavilion. The space that was assigned to us was the center of the Book Fair. We wanted to accomplish more than just an aesthetic/sculptural object that only called for attention, so we imagined a topography formed with the soda crates in which the visitors of the exhibition could utilize it in infinite ways. The topography functioned as benches to sit on, as a threshold that connects the fair isles, as an observer to value other stands from another perspective, as stairs, as a playground for kids, as an amphitheater for an acoustical concert and as a place to accommodate visitors to experience a small lecture or conference.
More than just an architectural intervention, the pavilion became a social topography that invited the exhibition visitors to explore it, and it responded to the different uses they gave it. Once the fair was over, we disassembled the pavilion, and the crates were returned to the soda company without generating pollution or residues, minimizing its carbon footprint. The Social Topography served as an example of how we can upcycle and reuse common every day objects, and in a creative way transform them and give them a new use.