To give our audience eyes and ears into Frame Awards 2020, we're sharing coverage on the decision-making that resulted in the winning projects. Below, we celebrate the recipient of our honorary award Emerging Designer of the Year: Roth Architecture. Find the full collection of winner reports in our upcoming May/June 2020 issue, Frame 134.

‘His intuition of building, man and nature is the most remarkable thing we've seen today.’ So said Cutwork cofounder Kelsea Crawford after Roth Architecture’s presentation for House of the Year. Unsurprising, then, that the practice eventually took home the award for its design of Uh May Residence. And it wasn’t just that project that captivated the jury. The designer’s portfolio of organic, twisting structures sent him onto the stage to collect the Emerging Designer of the Year trophy as well. 

Eduardo Neira, who goes by the name of Roth, founded his firm in 2018 in Azulik, an environmentally conscious resort in Tulum, Mexico. Roth Architecture is based on three pillars: artistic expression, a reverence for nature and the preservation of our indigenous communities’ ancestral techniques. Going against the grains of mass manufacture, prefabrication and construction technologies, the practice exists outside traditional modes of architecture. Roth says he relies on ‘nature’s existing structural logic to resolve problems presented by each site from day to day. Building is an act of improvisation and collaboration between the architects and skilled Maya craftsmen.’ 

Like all of Roth’s projects, Sfer Ik Museion was built with profound respect for its natural surroundings. The art gallery in Tulum, Mexico, stands on stilts so that animals can freely pass beneath the building.

But Roth isn’t simply returning to the past: ‘We frequently experiment with natural materials in previously unused ways,’ he says, ‘like our ceilings woven from ordinary jungle vines. The fluidity of form resonates with the patterns and shapes that occur in the forest, and we refuse to cut down trees whenever possible. Our work demonstrates that construction is possible without destroying living ecosystems, and that the ancestral wisdom of indigenous communities can coexist with modern technology.’ Working with nature and not against it. It’s a refreshingly mindful – and increasingly necessary – approach.

Frame Awards 2020's Honorary accolades were proudly sponsored by IBA. The People's Choice award for Emerging Designer of the Year went to AtMa.