An exhibition organized by
the School of Architecture


        LANZA Atelier

174 years ago Mexico assigned half of its territory to the United States of America, that is, all of what is now the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. With the signing of that peace agreement—the Treaty of Guadalupe—in 1848, the war between the two countries arrived at an end.
        We thus know that less than one century ago, the land occupied by the School of Architecture in Arcosanti belonged to Mexico. However, shortly before the beginning of the 19th century, Mexico was not an independent country either. The region had been a Spanish colony since 1521 and it was only in 1810 that it achieved independence from Spain.
        Long before Europeans arrived on the American continent, Mesoamerica was dominated by the Mayan civilization, the group of pre-Columbian peoples who ruled the southern half of Mexico, the territories of Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, western Nicaragua and Costa Rica, for 18 centuries. Their domain extends from the Preclassic Period (2000 BC–250 AD) to the Postclassic Period (900–1527 AD), leaving a very important legacy.
    In turn, Mayan culture flourished based in part on the Olmec culture and its writing system through glyphs. And before the Olmec, other peoples existed with another relationship to nature, other desires and other beliefs.
        Who then has the right to claim the land and the riches that grow on it? The process of climate change in which we are immersed is devastating our forests and jungles worldwide. Every day that passes the number of trees and plants that inhabit the planet decreases. Meanwhile, we are witnessing old and new wars for control of territory.
        The ceiba pentandra, commonly called ceiba or pochote, is a tree with strong and pronounced roots. In the Mayan culture it is a sacred tree that supports the universe. Its branches point to the four cardinal points and it is considered that its shadow grants protection to the beings that shelter under it. It is native to the Mesoamerican region and grows rapidly, between two and four meters each year when it is young. Its trunk is up to three meters wide and it does not have low branches since its branches are grouped at the top forming a canopy.
        The ceiba is an important part of the center of the squares in the towns of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Chiapas, in Mexico, and many other places in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Under its shadow, different activities that bring the community together, sacred ceremonies such as the "change of sticks", markets, fairs and even births are still carried out today.
        The ceiba is a monumental architecture in itself, a column, a roof, a shadow, and a welcoming place.
        In October 2021, we planted a ceiba tree in the patio of our house in Mexico City. In the Spring of 2022 we brought ceiba seeds to the School of Architecture, at Arcosanti. Due to the harsh desert climate that will make their planting and growing very hard, the seeds are presented as little treasures. Mounted on silver, together they create an organic jewel

Design team
Isabel Abascal, Alessandro Arienzo, Henry Peters.
Jewel Consultancy and Fabrication

Alana Burns (la ma r).