Axel Vervoordt and Tatsuro Miki create "cloister-like" gallery in Puerto Escondido

Belgian artist Axel Vervoordt and Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki have created a monolithic art gallery on the Oaxacan coast in Mexico to showcase large sculptural works.

Called Meridiano, the gallery sits on the strip of coast north of Puerto Escondido near arts non-profit Fundación Casa Wabi’s Tadao Andoe-designed residency and gallery.

Puerto Escondido gallery
Meridiano is a semi-enclosed gallery north of Puerto Escondido. Top and above photo by Biel Moreno

Meridiano is run by Axel Vervoordt’s son, Boris Vervoord, and Kasmin Gallery president Nicholas Olney, and was designed to hold two large-scale exhibitions annually.

Axel Vervoordt came together with Miki to conceive of a trapezoidal form with walls rendered in locally hewn stone and divided internally by a wall that separates the whole into two sections, both with different openings to the sky. It is aligned in geometric accordance with the cardinal directions.

Aerial view of Meridiano gallery
It was designed to host works of large-scale sculpture. Photo by Sergio López

The proportions of the two primary interior spaces were based on “sacred geometry” according to the designers.

The architecture is based on sacred geometry out of respect for Mexican traditions to create a space for art that looks like it’s always existed in this unique place,” said Vervoordt.

Stone walls of Meridiano
It has a trapezoidal form and walls made from locally quarried stone

The remote location led to a consideration of both a monastic element and the open sky.

A triangular room is left completely uncovered, while the longer section of the structure has a smaller slit, showcasing the thick ceiling. Breezes from the nearby ocean can also circulate through the gallery, which does not have mechanical cooling or lighting.

Ceiling aperture in Meridiano art gallery
It has two rooms with apertures of varying size in their ceilings

“Bringing form to several aesthetic and artistic traditions, the minimalist architecture of Meridiano can be likened to a cloister or atrium,” said the gallery.

“The breach in the enclosure invites an isolated fragment of sky, changing in its composition and illumination from minute to minute, to converse with the works on view,” it continued.

“The resulting space offers a timeless vessel for contemplation, where visitors are invited to experience not only the artwork but the changing conditions in the environment that focus perception on the passage of time.”

This “perception of the passage of time” was heightened by the effect of the shadows as they move across the ceilings and walls of the interior, like a sundial.

The design team also noted a desire to show “sensitivity” to the biodiversity of the region, by using local materials such as the stone and the wood for the thick rustic Paduke doors used in the exterior entrance and interior passage – as well as partnering with local organisations “to maintain the integrity of the local vegetation and wildlife”.

Door in the middle of Meridiano
A single wall divides the space into two

A small pathway circulates from one of the dirt roads that crisscross the area and an outbuilding, also rendered in stone, sits near the entrance.

So far, exhibitors who have shown monumental work at Meridiano since its opening in 2023 include artists Kimsooja and Joel Shapiro.

Kimsooja art in Meridiano
South Korean artist Kimsooja was one of the first to show works there

The gallery is among a collection of buildings that have popped up on the property surrounding Casa Wabi, which is run by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi.

Others include the pyramidal, solar-powered Hotel Terrestre designed by the well-known Mexico City-based architect Alberto Kalach as well as a recently built house that aims to balance “antiquity and futurity” by Carlos Matos, also based in Mexico City.

The photography is by Diego Flores unless otherwise noted.

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