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IK Lab at Azulik

Guggenheim successor opens tropical-influenced IK Lab art gallery in Tulum

The great-grandson of art collector Peggy Guggenheim has opened a gallery at an eco-resort in Tulum, where wave-like cement walls and undulating vine floors provide an unusual backdrop to artwork.

Opened last month, IK Lab is located in the luxurious eco-friendly Azulik resort in the popular vacation town located on the coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

The project came about when Santiago Rumney Guggenheim, a descendant of the famed Guggenheim family and a Tulum local, suggested the resort's founder and designer Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel open an art gallery.

Guggenheim's proposal continues the legacy of his ancestors: his great grandmother Peggy was a legendary American art dealer and the niece of Solomon R Guggenheim – the wealthy American businessman and philanthropist behind museums including Frank Lloyd Wright's spiralling building in New York.

"My history with Tulum is deep-rooted, and this project is very close to my heart," said Santiago Rumney Guggenheim in statement.

"IK LAB is more than a gallery, it aspires to provide a framework for the world's finest creative minds to interact with the gallery's visionary architecture and explore new ways of creation."

Sterkel's design for IK LAB aims to make little impact on its setting, to follow the environmentally friendly ethos of the holiday destination.

Elevated above the ground to the height of the surrounding tree canopy, the gallery is built with cement and locally sourced wood. Its organic forms stray far from the traditional "white box" typically associated with art galleries.

Tree branches provide the structure for the uneven canopy that covers the exhibition space. Smaller sticks arranged in a diagonal pattern slot in between, with narrow gaps that allow light to filter through. More light floods in through a number of round windows, in varying shapes and sizes, which puncture the walls.

Visitors to the gallery must take off their shoes before stepping on the undulating flooring, which rises up to join a raised walkway that leads around the gallery.

Bejuco wood – a local vine-like plant – is laid in a wavy pattern over the floor and is broken up with segments of cement that curve up like waves in front of the walls. One of these is designed like a climbing wall, featuring moon-shaped openings that form steps and a rope for support.

A series of furniture in the gallery, including a table and a set of chairs, is also made of cement.

Santiago R Guggenheim curated the first exhibition at the IK Lab. Called Alignments and opened on 20 April 2018, it features work by artists including Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Lescher and Margo Trushina.

Azulik is among a host of accommodation options in Tulum, which has become a popular holiday destination in recent years and sparked a number of design-focussed developments along its beach.

Among these, the estate once owned by infamous drug baron Pablo Escobar has been turned into an art-filled boutique hotel, and a Gaudi-esque treehouse has been built to peep above the tropical woodland.

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