April 19, 2021
Future100: María José Fuentes’s Work Addresses Community Building in Shades of Green, Purple, and Pink
With an interest in social equity and ecology, this architecture student evaluates power structures through color and speculation.
María José Fuentes sees architecture as the distillation of experience and memory. For her, a project can result from pragmatic problem solving but also creative spontaneity. “Something that continuously surprises me about architecture is the range and diversity of topics that you are able to find in school,” says the University of Pennsylvania M.Arch student. “It’s fascinating to find yourself in a bustling atmosphere where the intersection of formal and political theory can coexist in one room.” Fuentes is particularly interested in community building, social equity, and the role color plays in defining structures.
In projects like Biotopic Synergy, Fuentes speculates on the possibility of converting social housing into self-sustaining ecologies that would allow humans to harmoniously cohabitate with other living species. The adaptive reuse project transforms standard apartments into unconfined floor plans that facilitate fluid circulation and social interaction. Throughout, multistory conical shafts house vertical hydroponic vegetation and filter natural light down to a basement-level aquaponic basin.
Fuentes’s socially and ecologically minded approach extends to her views on the architecture and design industry as a whole. “The lack of ethics as a baseline for architectural practice has become increasingly frightening,” she reflects. “There’s a dark unrest of unhealthy studio cultures, hegemonic power structures, and anti-diversity regimens. Moving forward in my career, I’d like to explore these issues further and establish intradisciplinary working structures.” Fuentes hopes to advance her ideas in a work setting that values continued education and transparency but also a similar appreciation for speculative ideation.
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MARÍA JOSÉ FUENTES
University of Pennsylvania
NOMINATOR: Andrew Saunders, Associate Professor, M.Arch Program Director
Fuentes’s portfolio expresses an interest in textile design at the scales of both the body and the city. Discrete Drip reimagines three historical clothing techniques, while Queering Textiles is a design for a textile reuse plant and flea market.
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