Located in the Bajio, Mexico’s breadbasket, the National Laboratory of Genomics is an extension of the Institute of Agricultural Studies. The location and geology of the site—an empty field with a fault line deep below—gave rise to the metaphor that defines the form of the building: an inscribed line divides the program in half, with the laboratories on one side and the administrative and auditorium spaces on the other, and also delineates the public areas. This constructed fault line forms an intimate civic space that connects the different programs.
The project is nestled into a built-up artificial topography, a new terrain that manifests the nature of the work inside the institution. The laboratories are absorbed into the site, evident predominantly as a series of terraces that modulate transitions between interior and exterior, lab and field. Voids cut into the landscape create secluded patios, bringing light into the building. The embedded laboratories provide private and isolated spaces for research and also insulated and easily controlled environments for testing. In contrast, the administrative and auditorium spaces assert the presence of the technical and the social.
To correctly address energy savings in the building, the design involves studying the appropriate orientation and temperature according to the activities undertaken in the construction and, also, the weather at the Bajio area. The result is the building’s good use of the north - south light and its closed façade to the east and west orientation, the latter is accomplished with the use of different materials like concrete walls or white glass. Underneath the natural landscape at the west side, the project holds the space designated for the laboratories. The goal was to achieve the specific climate necessities with a minimum use of mechanical equipment; this buried gesture cools the area down almost naturally.
The transparency and precision of the façades bring the landscape into the building, yet the contrast between structure and surroundings is an uncompromising reminder of the role of engineering and high technology in the study of genomics. The almost camouflaged effect of the entire project gently integrates building and site; at the same time, it lends an air of intrigue to the activities within.