- Get Involved
- About Us
- Our Projects
- The Watch
- Dig Deeper
In 1944, Edward James, a wealthy British poet and artist and early patron of surrealist art, purchased a plot of land in Mexico’s Huasteca region. For the next forty years, James designed and built a network of canals and pools in this rugged region, which he interspersed with whimsical sculptures and architectural structures to create a surrealist landscape. James collaborated with Plutarco Gastélum Esquer and local artisans to create his surrealist vision. There are more than thirty architectural follies at Las Pozas, including a stairway to nowhere, a library without books, a cinema with no seats, and La Casa de Tres Pisos que Podrían Ser Cinco (The Three-Story House that Might Be Five), which, in fact, has five.
Since James’s death in 1984, the tropical trees and plants have grown and interwoven with the structures to great dramatic effect, further marrying the natural world with man-made elements. However evocative this may be, though, vegetation may cause significant damage to the structures if allowed to grow unchecked. Stewardship of the site must consider the preservation of the built heritage alongside the wild environment.
HOW WE HELPED
Las Pozas was included on the 2010 Watch and WMF, with the support of Friends of Heritage Preservation, helped restore the Edward James Cabin and a group of concrete structures built around the wood and bamboo cabin, used originally by Mr. James and his pet snakes. The work included the conservation of the poems he wrote on its walls.
WMF also supported the research of a student from the University of Pennsylvania who is writing a graduate thesis on the conservation challenges of Las Pozas.
The next phase of work, which began in fall 2012, includes the restoration of The Three-Story House that Might Be Five and the installation of an interpretive display intended to teach visitors about the site and James’s legacy.
WHY IT MATTERS
In addition to being recognized on an international level, Las Pozas is a site that is used and appreciated by the local community. Environmental factors that pose the greatest threat to the site and yet they are the same elements that make the site so visually compelling. The challenge is to preserve and protect the architectural structures from their sometimes hostile and uncontrollable environment and preserve James’s intention of situating fantastical exotic creations within a natural landscape. The conservation of Las Pozas will demonstrate how built structures and a naturalistic landscape can coexist without causing the destruction of each other.
Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico
Fundacion Pedroa y Elena Hernandez, A.C. and the Neurohumanities Research Centre & Erasmus Mundus Literary Interzones Joint Doctorate Program Present