Arquitectura Libre: Self-construction in Mexico through the lens of Adam Wiseman

Arquitectura Libre is a story of displacement, replacement, identity, culture, classism, racism, education, perseverance – and mistakes.


Arquitectura libre
 is a long-term project on the self-built environment. It focuses primarily on the architecture of remittances; the fantastical houses being built by financing from Mexican immigrants in the US who send money home. Arquitectura libre explores the idea of a home more as symbol than as function.  

Approaching the theme of migration through its architecture opens up a somewhat unique perspective on a much-reported subject. It poses questions of not only displacement but of replacement, where in these homes symbolically “replace” the migrant in the most visible of ways. 

postvernacular-polyarchitecture in the Mazahua indigenous community near San Felipe del Progreso, in the Estado de mexico, Mexico – picture taken from the blog

The practice of self-building is still a subject that divides opinions among Mexican architects. Diffused throughout the territory, it is a necessary practice due to an undeniable reality of the economic and social conditions that devastate the country, however, it is still far from being an aesthetic consensus. It is important to point out that the practice in question does not take place only in Mexico, but as a phenomenon that transcends all borders.

The work presented by Wiseman represents one of many efforts in which the questioning goes beyond aesthetics, addressing each piece that composes a free language architecture, often complex and in a constant search for redemption – whether cultural or sentimental.

A castle house in San Pedro Techuchulco, Architecture on the way to Malinalco in the Estado de Mexico, Mexico – picture taken from

You can find the full story on website, where you can also get editions for sale or a home-delivery exhibition.

Adam Wiseman’s career has been marked by his relationship to photojournalism. His subjects are clearly interposed with an understanding of image as something between document and intersubjectivity.  

Wiseman currently divides his time in-between Mexico City and London giving lectures, workshops and developing new work.  

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