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THE ARCHITECTURAL PROGRAM.
There is no doubt that the architectural program of the Workshop-Dormitory was made by Orozco himself. Each one of the spaces of the property responds to the painter’s specific needs and speaks of his way of life during the time he resided there. As mentioned in the “Controversy on Authorship” section, the House was conceived as a Workshop-Dormitory, where he would, temporarily, work and live, until he moved back to Mexico City to live with his family.
The precision and specificity of the spaces lead to the conclusion that Orozco had, at least, close participation in the elaboration of the project. It was he who determined, not only what spaces his Workshop-Dormitory would include, but also established how those spaces should be. The conversations Orozco held with the Austrian architect Frederick Kiesler helped mature the muralist’s ideas on modern architecture, hence, when he faced the construction of his Workshop-Dormitory, he had a clear notion of the formal and functional specifications it should have.
By analyzing the project, four zones can be identified, as described below.
– A single room comprises the work zone: the Studio or Workshop. With a total area of 57.38 m2 and a height of 4.95m, it is the main component of the Workshop-Dormitory. It has a visual relationship with the main patio through a picture window on the north wall, and, secondarily, with the entrance garden and the exterior through a window on the south wall. This area links to the entrance garden, the main patio, and the dormitory zone, and it must be passed in order to access the rest of the building. This indicates that the visitors Orozco used to receive were mostly clients since a potential customer could enter the Workshop to examine the works of their interest, without them having to pass through the rest of the house. It is important to mention that the House doesn´t count with a living or drawing room and that the dining room isn´t linked directly to the entrance or the Studio. This leads to the understanding that, other than his clients, Orozco did not anticipate on receiving guests.
– The dormitory zone is comprised of the master bedroom, a closet, and a bathroom, articulated by a corridor, which connects this zone to the Workshop. This corridor also links the Workshop and the bathroom. Thus, the bathroom links to the Workshop and the master bedroom, but not to the dining room or rooftop, reinforcing the idea that Orozco’s visitors were potential purchasers of his works, and that he did not often receive social visits.
– The master bedroom connects to the main patio and a small hallway with the staircase to the top floor. However, the most important connection is to the Workshop, through the corridor. The rooms of this area are quite austere, depicting the artist’s sober character. The master bedroom measures barely 14.05m2, the closet, 3.87m2, and the bathroom, 7.16m2.
– The service zone occupies the rear end of the building. It consists of the kitchen, service yard, dining room, the service room on the top floor, and a small hallway that contains the stairway to the top floor. The presence of the service room, with an area of 11.60m2, indicates that Orozco hired cleaning personnel, who, surely, was also appointed to food preparation and the rest of the domestic chores. The service yard measures 18.47m2 and counts with a washbasin.
The kitchen and dining room are relatively large, especially in comparison to the rooms in the dormitory area, measuring, the former, 11.60m2, and the latter, 22.47m2. During his stay in Guadalajara, Orozco expressed the difficulty of finding affordable and quality meals away from home, which points us to the importance he gave to counting with adequate and sufficient space for food preparation.
– The open area zone is of great importance in the Workshop-Dormitory, taking up a total area of 190.06m2 (excluding the service yard). It consists of the main patio, the entrance garden, the low rooftop, and the high rooftop.
The access consists of a stairway that closes the gap of height, of 1.40 m, between the sidewalk and the building, and two small gardened areas that flank it. These are limited by low walls, with jumps in height, creating a volumetric play that serves as an antechamber for the rest of the areas of this zone.
The main patio exists, mainly, as an accessory to the Workshop. Since the Workshop is located on the anterior end of the house, on the southernmost area, the existence of a patio that allows its illumination from the north was essential. During the daytime hours, it lets in natural light to the Workshop through the great picture window, without allowing the entry of direct sunrays.
The rooftop consists of two areas at different heights here referred to as the high rooftop and the low rooftop. The play with different volumes creates a ludic and sculpturesque space, with a clear inspiration in the De Beistegui Attic, designed by Le Corbusier for the wealthy aristocrat Carlos de Beistegui y de Yturbe in 1929. The Attic was built as a modern space to entertain and surprise Beistegui’s friends.
The high rooftop has an area of 57.38m2, being, along with the Workshop, the largest space in the Workshop-Dormitory, while the low terrace has an area of 53.52m2. The parapets imply that the rooftop, beyond being the residual area that rooftops used to be, was conceived as a livable space. Unlike the De Beistegui Attic, it wasn’t created as a space for amusement, but, rather, for reflection. The height of the parapets, apart from being a safety element, isolates the rooftop from any outside view, except for the austral window, guiding the eye towards the sky, inviting to its contemplation. The jumps on the walls, the change of heights and the window on the southern wall create breaks from the usual monotony of walls, creating an eye-catching volumetric composition. The empty spaces created by the patios on the ground level, and the presence of the white cube, a recurring element in Orozco’s oeuvre, also take part in this composition.
The spaces contemplated in the architectural program present a Workshop-Dormitory, built as a temporary residence and completely consecrated to being a workspace. The services and space of residency are rather austere, and they subordinate to the working space, which would have hardly happened if the house had been planned as a family home. An analysis of the architectural program leads to two clear conclusions: first, the Orozco-Valladares never meant to permanently reside in the Workshop-Dormitory at López Cotilla St, and second, the Workshop-Dormitory was designed according to Orozco’s specific directions, who was surely implicated continuously in the project.