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Architecture of The Earth 

Exhibition at TOTO Gallery・MA , Tokyo 2021

Earth is a material. 

It is also a place where we live, that we transform.

Architecture sometimes chooses to build with it.

Others to exist independently.

Or to flatten its face.

Vestiges of ancient monuments carved in rock, built with it, vernacular architectures that give order to the materials around them, land art, and some earthworks as well… evidence the potential of using land and landscapes actively, beyond their understanding as sources for endless exploitation.

Architecture of the Earth presented a series of research and professional projects conducted by Ensamble Studio over two decades. Though developed at different times, in different geographies and for different reasons, together they contribute to reflect upon the relation between Architecture and the Earth, or the print that we, as humans, leave on our environment. Reading landscapes, recycling them, reinforcing their crust or using it as mold, structures are built utilizing the natural potential of places and creating synergies. Learning from geological processes, analog construction methodologies are developed, and new architectural languages discovered, opening our imagination to unknown territories that are worth exploring.

The exhibition at Gallery MA was set up in three distinct spaces through which the theme unfolded:

Laboratory of Ideas (RESEARCH),

Rock Garden (DESIGN) and

Audiovisual Landscapes (CONSTRUCTION)  

They proposed an itinerary, from ideas to materialization and back: a retrofitting loop that presented the theme of the exhibition as an ongoing endless enterprise.


Space 1: RESEARCH - Laboratory of Ideas

Laboratory of Ideas presented a collection of investigations, opening a window into Ensamble Studio’s workspaces in Madrid, Boston and Menorca, where ideas are developed through hands-on experimentation. Process models filled the space showing the evolution of ideas through iteration and extensive testing. 


Audiovisuals on small screens accompanied the physical objects revealing the making of the objects themselves and the workspaces where they were thought of. 



Towers of Landscape 

Fallen Leafs 

Voided Rocks 

Organic Beams 

Earth Tilt-Ups 

Strokes / Calligraphies 

Non-Cartesian Grids 

Petrified Rivers 


Space 2: DESIGN - Rock Garden

Rock Garden connects ideas with places, showing how projects are developed when prototypes meet the ground, adopt a scale and build a space. Inspired by the Japanese rock garden (枯山水 - karesansui) it became an outdoor contemplation space central to the exhibition. It was a Space of Design, a space of testing and definition. Selected prototypes come out of the laboratory to show how ideas become projects when matched with a site and given scale. Prototypes were set on a gravel base as floating islands, configuring a dry garden that can be contemplated from indoor spaces and from the bridge above.




AlUla Desert Rock 


Florida House

Calderona House

Governor’s Island Museum

Petrified River 


Space 3: CONSTRUCTION - Audiovisual Landscapes

Audiovisual Landscapes created an immersive experience where visitors, after learning about research and design processes, realize how projects become a reality through inventive construction processes. It was a Space of Construction, a space of realization. Construction processes and built projects were showcased through large scale projections that created an immersive experience where visitors visualized how research and design become a reality.


After visiting Space 3, moving back through Space 2 and Space 1 enabled a new reading and comprehension of the work presented and the overarching theme.



SGAE Headquarters

The Truffle

Structures of Landscapes

Petrified River 

Ca’n Terra

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