TEN Arquitectos have shared renderings of a museum project that Enrique Norten is working on in the historic center of Puebla, Mexico. The Amparo Museum sits in the heart a colonial quarter and though building envelope will retain its old world charm, a very new world facility will emerge inside.
The museum is comprised of four structures dating from 17th and 18th centuries and for that reason its hard to imaging a project like this sailing through a historic commission in the States. But Norten said that it’s no cakewalk in Mexico either, though they don’t have community boards to contend with. “It’s super tough. It’s what we call the historic patrimony. All pre-Colombian through the 19th century, all are protected” he said. But the architect and his crew were able to argue that an intervention from fifty years ago left a large portion of the building open for reinterpretation.
Like the new addition, the collection and temporary exhibits bring together old and new, with the pre-Columbian art rubbing shoulders with contemporary installations. The museum has also developed a bit of a reputation for using technology as a teaching tool, but their digital approach has grown a bit stale over the years. The renovation should bring them back up to speed. “We’re going to be using screens, computers, videos. All kinds of new media will be integrated,” said Norten.
The new addition will occur over the course of five years and the museum will remain open. A series of four courtyards have allowed the architects to float much of the needed space within the existing structure without interrupting much of the historic fabric. “You have to find areas to bypass or where there are certain opportunities,” said Norten. The fifty-year-old intervention allowed for the more drastic changes, which made room for a large auditorium and cafeteria.
Though integrating new buildings behind old facades has become a trend in New York, Norten said the process is old hat South of the Border. “We have been doing this for years in Mexico, because we have a vast stock of older buildings.”