“In architecture, people often think that nature is what you see outside the window. So understanding that we are nature, people will be in the correct position to design architecture that integrates the natural world.”
Funga sat down with Michel Rojkind to speak about his life philosophies and recent journey into the psychedelic world. He was a joy to speak to and has many important insights to share! Throughout the article, you will also find pictures of his past projects with brief descriptions.
Michel was born in Mexico City, where he studied Architecture and Urban Planning at the Universidad Iberoamericana. In 2002 he founded Rojkind Arquitectos, a firm focusing on design, tactical and experiential innovation. While addressing the challenges of contemporary life, his goal is to design compelling architectural and urban planning solutions that go beyond mere functionality and become integral experiences that connect the intricacies of each project at a deeper level and positively impact our society and the environment.
The project was born through an understanding of the value of nature and its historical use as a sanctuary and refuge, allowing us to create a concept that reconnects with the environment and ourselves.
Can you name three different stages within your career that your context at that moment has influenced?
I got signed to Virgin Records at 19; I was a drummer in a band. We had four albums and videos on MTV. The lead singer, Aleks Syntek, is still out there and now became a pop singer. We started as a rock band, and at the time, there was a movement in Latin America that was called Rock en Español. It was a rebellious movement against English rock because Argentina had fought over the Maldives with the English. So when they were fighting over the island, they said, “f*** you, we are not speaking your language; we will do our rock in Spanish.” Before, you couldn’t make music if it wasn’t in English, so this triggered a movement in America, and we were part of that movement in Mexico.
Parallel to music, I was doing architecture and, after a while, started falling out of love with music a little bit. I loved touring and meeting people, but I began to dislike managers, record companies, and the whole business side of the industry. I tried drugs, but nothing stuck because I was always so into sports. If I would go out to party, the next day, I had a Taekwondo competition, where someone would rip my head off. This meant I had to be in shape, focused and conscious. I like that because sports and health always maintain me in a good place.
So, to answer your question, the first stage was music because I had a career as a musician for eight years. After that, I left music for architecture. Another essential stage is sports! I had done sports all my life but started doing marathons when I was 45. Although people told me I was starting too late, I ran my first marathon in San Francisco and then qualified for Boston. I combined my passion for running with architecture because every time I arrived in a new city, I would go for a 10k run, giving me a sense of orientation and scale, and it was beautiful. If it’s about life and enjoying life, I am in!
We are convinced that we need a new model of social and environmental coexistence in our country and in the world, thinking not only of our clients and shareholders but also of our community and the environment.
When did you start getting into psychedelics and how are they affecting you?
My dad was a liver disease researcher and a well-known academic, while my mother went to India to look for her Guru and was all about spirituality. She would return to the house floating with light coming from her ears.
Since very young, I was like, “I don’t know where you’re coming from, but I want to go there.” I was one of those kids that were lucky enough to go to meditation programs since I was super young.
I have never been afraid of drugs. I tried many of them but didn’t like them. I really started getting into psychedelics after I read Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind, which blew my mind. There was a lot of talk about psychedelic therapy, which made me understand the power of working with yourself and on yourself with natural medicine. My daughter’s mother is a psychologist and started getting into the idea of treatment combined with psilocybin and LSD. However, it wasn’t until I broke up a relationship not too long ago that I decided to try microdosing with psilocybin with the intention to deconstruct all these versions of myself that made me survive until now, which are good but now don’t work anymore.
How do you change all these things that you think you are?
There is immense gratitude because they got me where I am today, but now I am ready to get them out and see the real thing. This positive mind that got me through music, architecture, and everything else I’ve wanted also has its opposing sides. Taking away the ego a little bit to see those parts of you that you can let go of now because they are not doing you any good. I realised that there is no more growth because you are holding on to them and to let go of that is beautiful.
So I started microdosing as a therapeutic process to go deep within myself. First and foremost, to lose control because I am a control obsessive creature, which has gotten me good things but also limited me in many others. I am trying to let go of that and understand how I can become better because we are in this life to experiment with ourselves. If I can’t reprogram things, I thought made me who I am, who will reprogram them?
Bringing it back to my recent breakup, I wanted to go inside myself to look at my relationships with women, including my mother, my daughter, and my ex-girlfriends. I have a fantastic relationship with all my exes, making me think I am a healthy human, but why do I jump from relationship to relationship? Instead of repeating patterns that keep happening, I want to learn to be better in my next relationship, not only for the partner I am going to have but for me. There have been many moments of clarity; I started writing everything down.
Many people that are microdosing are getting messages or downloads, but they need to learn how to integrate them or are unwilling to because they know it’s hard work. And it is!
But the beauty comes from being open to having this download come to your body and understanding it but then putting the mind to work to integrate it into your day-to-day life.
Everything happens within a circulation system contained in a solid concrete volume with multiple exits where its path is made in a semi-dark passage, illuminated mainly by overhead skylights during the day and very subtle downlights at night.
Is there such a thing as psychedelic at architecture? And if so, what are the elements that define it?
I don’t think there is such a thing as psychedelic architecture. I believe there is a return to our connection as humans, to our humanity, to make us understand that we are not separated from nature. In architecture, people often think that nature is what you see outside the window. So understanding that we are nature, people will be in the correct position to design architecture that integrates the natural world. I think our disconnection from nature has gotten us to where we are. It can be compared to oneself not feeling empathy toward the other because the other is outside my experience, which shouldn’t be.
During the pandemic, while people were dying, some people were like, “I don’t care because I don’t know these guys.” I was thinking, “What do you mean you don’t know them? Humans are dying. We should all feel the death of somebody even though he is not your relative.” Psychedelics are not the answer, but it is a way of working towards a better version of myself which obviously will make me a better version as an architect, a designer, or whatever I do outside. That’s one of the most important aspects!
People talk about organic architecture or sacred geometry architecture.
However, I have always had a conflict as an architect because I know that putting a building into the earth is putting something into a living creature.
The next generation of architecture will be architecture capable of giving something to the soil, nourishing nature, and turning everything you are building into something beneficial to nature, not something that extracts resources from nature.
Foro Boca, the future home of the Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, is a new and innovative cultural venue that aims to function as an urban detonator that enhances the modernization of Boca del Rio, Veracruz.
How has your experience of Burning Man been?
This year was my third time and it has been my best. I wasn’t ready for the first ones because I always had some sort of conflict. I am a workaholic so being there made me feel like I was cheating on my work. As I mentioned, I went through a breakup, so this time I gifted myself this experience fully and enjoyed it to the max. I was there to see and do everything. I woke up at 5:30 am, went for a run, saw the sunrise, went back to the camp, then jumped from talk to talk, to parties, and at nighttime, saw some friends that were djing. I was not there to party, though, so I would go to sleep at 2:30 in the morning as it was not my intention to get wasted. I tried some chocolate mushrooms and did not enjoy them to party. What gives me real enjoyment is taking them in the morning for running. When I came back and started posting pictures, people were surprised at how much I did while I was there. And I still felt like there needed to be more time.
I met Rick Doblin and Paul Staments, to name a few. They are humanity’s heroes as these guys are at the top of a moment in history that if we get the FDA to approve what Rick is doing with MAPS, etc., they will change the course of the world. They are the originals!
Rick has been fighting since the 80s, and it’s crazy to see him on the verge of this breakthrough that is happening now. The thing is, we need good therapists to do the integration. There is a need for people who are good at teaching people how to do this because it is not in our DNA.
It is funny because I am actually writing a school curriculum. I am not planning to open a school, but I am doing it more to exercise what I would teach kids. For instance, the language of energy should be shared with kids before English or Spanish. If you teach kids that we communicate through energy and you need to nourish your culture about understanding energy as a language. Can you imagine! Why do we teach what we teach instead of showing the importance of connection at an early age? I hope I come from the last generation that didn’t get it.
Hybrid Hut explores the relationship between contemporary technology and local craftsmanship to create a temporary pavilion in Winnipeg
When exactly did you start this process into consciousness?
It has been a whole process, but I can map exactly how I have shredded my other beings through my lifetime with amazing women as partners, my daughter, and my friends. I am especially conscious of what I learned this year. Can I say that I improved in something? If I didn’t, I get super depressed.
I tell my friends who think they became enlightened and now want to be shamans: “Tell me ONE thing, not 10, literally just one, that you are working on. Give me one, and show me how you integrate that into your daily life.”
I started going to ashrams at seven years old with my mother. I have been spiritual for a long time but stopped with the turning of the millennium in 2000 because there was this kind of spiritual awakening where everybody now meditated and was a guru, and I was put off. I would see people that are jerks, but they are yoga teachers. Or someone would go to a weekend retreat, come back feeling like a shaman, and tell me they wanted to take me to do ayahuasca. I always thought it was crazy how they believed they were a teacher after one week of learning. To me, the best teachers are the ones that don’t say they are teachers.
One thing that I am working on right now that I am trying to integrate more is gratefulness. Since I can remember, I have been grateful for life. This is not something that I think, I am just grateful for my friends, for love, and for life, but I was never grateful for the so-called “bad emotions.” I get tense whenever I feel sadness or anger and shut down.
In a recent meditation, I was thinking about my ex-girlfriend, which made me sad and tense. That was a wake-up call for me to open up the space and welcome it. Let it in but be grateful for the sadness to inhabit my body. I will not fight anymore but instead, let it teach me. The integration is that every time the feeling shows up, JUST BREATHE and let it in until I don’t have to think about it anymore.
When that happens, I know that it is integrated into my DNA. Emotions are emotions, but learning how to be an empty vessel is what is important. We are the ones that catalog good and bad emotions, but in the end, they are all just emotions, and they tell us something about our bodies. Anxiety is an energy that you don’t know where to put; it is energy that is not channeled. So the point is to let it in, loosen up and let it teach you. Being open to that is a beautiful experience.
I have only been working with psilocybin for two months, and it’s been crazy the amount I have already learned. One of the things I put into my intention was knowledge. I want to be a sponge! I am picking up books again that I neglected for a long time; I am getting into articles and documentaries and speaking to people who are on this tipping point in our lifetime. I want to be close to them. Whatever they are doing, I AM IN! We are in a moment where things can change in a very, very good way, but people have to understand that therapy is not something you do when you’re crazy. You do therapy to become a better person, and we don’t have the tools because nobody taught us the tools. We need to show kids how to auto-regulate themselves and their immune system, boost their nervous system, understand emotions and be open. They would be Jedis!
TAMAYO MUSEUM ATIZAPAN EXTENSION
Set upon a steep hillside in Atizapan on the outskirts of Mexico’s largest metropolis will soon sit the New Tamayo Museum which will serve as a nucleus of education and culture, locally, regionally, and internationally.
If you could choose to exist as one plant, what would it be?
I would be an Ivy because, as a Sagittarius, I am very in tune with the energy in my body. I am a manifesting generator and a human design, so the idea of doing many things in my life is something that hasn’t scared me. The outreach of something is beautiful, if you are doing it with love. An ivy grows and spreads to wherever it can. So yes, that’s the first plant that came to my mind.