Gonzalo Lebrija designs sculptural lighthouse that "feels like a temple"


Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija has unveiled the sculptural El Faro lighthouse and art gallery on the Costalegre coast in western Mexico.

Built on a peninsular as part of a wider development, El Faro was designed as an exhibition space and local “landmark”, that will also operate as a lighthouse for local boats and fishermen.

Outside lighthouse in Mexico by artist Gonzalo Lebrija
El Faro is a lighthouse in west Mexico designed by artist Gonzalo Lebrija

Lebrija designed the lighthouse with a “shape and style that were conceived to make it look timeless”.

At the same time, Lebrija was keen that the lighthouse functioned and did not look out of place on the coast.

Entrance space of El Faro lighthouse with spiral staircase leading up
Inside the lighthouse is an open space that will be used for exhibitions

“The outside colour had to be bright to be seen by boats from the sea,” Lebrija told Dezeen.

“Instead of white paint, we used a white natural finish that better integrates it into the Costalegre landscape.”

Spiral staircase inside lighthouse designed by Gonzalo Lebrija
A central spiral staircase leads up to a viewpoint

An arched entrance leads to an 18-metres-high space which will be used to host installations and exhibitions.

“Inside provides a generous space with great height and natural lighting, it feels like a temple, a great space for multiple purposes,” said Lebrija.

“We are working on a program to invite artists to do installations within El-Faro and site-specific projects focussed on lighthouse narratives.”

Wrapped around the walls of this space, a spiral staircase leads up to an observatory at the top.

At different levels on the way up, four trapezium-shaped windows frame views over the ocean, surrounding beaches, mango fields and the Chalacatepec estuary.

Windows overlooking sea in El Faro lighthouse Mexico
Windows were positioned to frame views out over the ocean and surrounding landscape

Borne from an interest in “public sculpture and large-scale artworks,” Lebrija described the project as “between architecture and sculpture.

“When artwork becomes architectural it can provide a physical and fully immersive experience to the viewer,” the artist added.

According to Lebrija, El Faro is “a contemporary design that draws on the meaning of what a lighthouse is, while reimagining what it can be”.

El Faro lighthouse overlooking sea from outside
The lighthouse forms part of a wider development

El Faro forms part of the Xala housing and tourist resort being built on Mexico’s Jalisco Pacific Coast. Set to complete in 2026, the development near the under-construction Costalegre Airport will contain 115 homes, two boutique hotels, a hostel and numerous beachside villas.

Other Mexico-based projects recently covered on Dezeen include a boutique hotel converted by Bunkhouse and Reurbano in Mexico City and a brightly coloured cultural space in San Miguel de Allende.

The photography is courtesy of Xala. 



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