At the heart of social housing in Mexico is a contradiction: Flimsy houses built far from city centers sit empty, while millions of Mexicans are still waiting to use publicly financed housing credits. Developers continue to replicate the much-maligned cutter-cut model to keep costs down. But how can new construction not just meet the bottom line but satisfy the needs of low- and middle-income families? That is the question Carlos Zedillo and Julia Gómez Candela set out to answer at the Research Center for Sustainable Development of the National Workers’ Housing Fund Institute (Infonavit). After several years of research and design, they inaugurated the nine-acre Housing Laboratory in Apan, Hidalgo, in November 2018. The laboratory is made up of 32 prototype homes that explore new typologies for social housing to meet the needs of Mexico’s diverse cultures and climates. Infonavit partnered with Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample of New York–based architecture firm MOS to execute the ambitious project. “For a long time, developers have built the exact same housing in the north of the country as the south, without thinking about climate or materials,” said architect Gómez Candela in an interview by phone. That’s why the same boxy, concrete block homes dot the outskirts of almost all Mexican cities. Homes as small as 325 square feet stay within the budget, but are hardly adequate for families. Mexican workers gradually build up credit with Infonavit to finance their first home purchase. Infonavit used to build housing, but since the 1990s it plays the role of financer—workers use their Infonavit loans to pay for houses built by private developers. Along the way, architects’ role in the process diminished. Gómez Candela says that as director of the research center, the Yale-educated Zedillo set out, “To get architects to redirect their attention back to social housing in Mexico.” The research center began with an exhaustive study of the state of social housing in Mexico, identifying where the supply of homes was failing to meet demand. Then they selected 84 counties with high rates of Infonavit credit holders who had not yet bought homes. The target counties represented the nine climate zones of Mexico. The research center then worked with MOS to solicit proposals from around the world, settling on 32 prototype homes for the Housing Laboratory. Architects including Enrique Norten, Tatiana Bilbao, and Fernanda Canales designed houses for the project. The laboratory was conceived in Apan, a small town two hours to the east of Mexico City. Built on land owned by Infonavit, the site’s proximity to the capital allowed frequent visits. Towns and cities like Apan, in the outer limits of the Mexico City metro area, are usually known for drab, uniform housing. The small village of prototype homes is a welcome variation. The houses include vernacular architectural styles from around Mexico, including adobe, thatched roofing, and Mexican timber, designed with the country’s different climates in mind; from the humid, tropical south to the arid, hot north. Each architect described their inspirations and reference points, from local architectural styles like the wooden cabins known as trojes in the state of Michoacan to self-constructed housing. Collaborating with MOS allowed the research center to learn from their extensive experience designing housing. The Apan Housing Laboratory shows how developers could build high-quality housing within the tight budgets of Infonavit credits. It is only natural that Gómez Candela says cost was the greatest difficulty in the international collaboration. “In Mexico, we are used to building with very little money,” she says. “With our colleagues from the United States and other countries, we kept having to say, ‘Make it cheaper!’” The extra effort was necessary to convince developers that the models are feasible. Even so, developers have been slow to adopt the ideas proposed in the laboratory. “They [developers] still think it will be more expensive to build this way, even if we showed them otherwise” says Gómez Candela. “The numbers do add up.” Most visitors to the Housing Laboratory are students, urban planners and developers. Gómez Candela and Zedillo both left Infonavit when the new federal administration entered in December 2018. But the laboratory remains open and the floor plans are available online under open access. The laboratory is the start of a long process to refocus social housing in Mexico on the experience of the residents, not just efficacy for the builder. The research center’s work is seeing results, as Mexican architects focus more energy on designing housing. Gómez Candela is optimistic, saying, “The architects we worked with have continued to champion the cause of housing in Mexico.”
Posts tagged with "Mexico":
Mexico City-based studio Zeller & Moye has developed a sustainable, modular housing prototype made specifically for warm, rural locales. Casa Hilo, a 2,900-square-foot single-family home, features a concrete framework that can be arranged in a variety of configurations and with spaces interconnected without a central spine. The adaptable architecture is inspired by the way low-income Mexican families in countryside communities interact with the land—and other locals—surrounding them. Zeller & Moye collaborated with social housing group INFONAVIT to study the living conditions of these areas and then shape their design to create a series of homes across Coquimatlán in Mexico. Completed in May, Casa Hilo’s base layout includes a set of individual box-shaped rooms—each a separate space with its own front door and roof terrace—with open green patios between them. This prototype includes two bedrooms, one kitchen that doubles as a dining room, and a bathroom. The outdoor spaces making up the garden, where residents might grow their own plants for food or sale, are slightly shaded by the modular structures and provide a pleasant microclimate for communing. The design team added an outdoor tub, wood fire stove, benches, and another dining table for nice days. During the hotter months, the adobe blocks that make up the solid walls within the concrete frame cool the interiors by absorbing extra humidity. The windows and doors are made of large bamboo lattice structures and dually provide air circulation as well as shade when opened up to the exterior. According to the architects, the residence can be expanded based on the needs of the family, though Casa Hilo only has four rooms. Chrisoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye, principals of Zeller & Moye, led the experimental development of Casa Hilo. Both architects formerly worked at SANAA and Herzog & de Meuron. Previously completed works by the firm include a remodeled 1930s townhouse in Mexico City and several furniture collections.
For many in Mexico, the phrase “social housing” conjures images of vast housing tracts falling into disrepair, abandoned by workers tired of two-hour commutes. While architects and planners look back to understand what went wrong in the country’s early-2000s push to build affordable housing on city outskirts, authorities and designers are also looking ahead to explore alternative strategies. The Municipal Housing Institute (IMUVI) of León, a city of 1.6 million people in the central state of Guanajuato, invited Brooklyn firm SO – IL to collaborate on the design of a new prototype for social housing in the city’s center, and the team broke ground on the result, the Las Américas project, in May. Designed for low-income families, the building includes 56 apartments, most of which will be sold at far-below-market rates. Guanajuato is traditionally known for its artisanal leatherworking, but more recently, rapid growth in the auto-manufacturing industry has transformed the region; León’s population has doubled since the 1980s. Like many Mexican cities, it grew outward, with limited government planning. Some new arrivals built informal settlements on the city edges or, with access to credit, bought into exurban subdivisions. IMUVI faces two monumental tasks: regularizing the informal settlements, which requires extending utility services and other infrastructure and building housing for those who still need it. According to Amador Rodríguez, director of IMUVI León, 45 percent of the city’s residents don’t have access to federal housing credit or traditional bank loans. Rodríguez estimates that the city needs another 80,000 housing units to meet the demand. Instead of building more units on the outskirts, far from schools, jobs, and services, IMUVI has committed to densifying the city center. Working with SO – IL, IMUVI identified a lot in a downtown neighborhood to build Las Américas, a 62,431-square-foot complex of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. SO – IL’s partnership with IMUVI began when Florian Idenburg, the firm’s Dutch co-founder, was invited to Mexico to share his experience with the firm’s New York City micro-housing project tiNY, lessons from which informed Las Américas. “Affordability should not go against quality,” said Idenburg. “And one of the qualities that is very important to us is light.” Thanks to single-loaded open-air corridors, the apartments in Las Américas receive natural light from at least two sides. No two units directly face each other, maintaining both density and privacy. The housing block wraps around two shared courtyards, while openings in the building’s mass create additional, elevated common spaces. Exterior stairwells link each level. Idenburg said these features foster interaction between neighbors and a sense of community. “It was very refreshing to work with this team in León,” Idenburg said. Even with a limited budget, he said, there are opportunities for customization in Mexico that can lend character to what could otherwise be a uniform building. The team worked with local fabricators to develop a precast concrete brick that can be installed in different positions, creating a variety of wall textures for the apartments. “We made really nice custom windows that are hand-welded,” he added. “You probably wouldn’t be able to do that in the United States because of cost.” The design process included workshops and meetings in León to understand the needs of low-income families. SO – IL worked pro bono on the project. “It was a very productive collaboration,” said Idenburg. “Everything was very collective.” While construction continues, IMUVI is identifying families to move into Las Américas. Out of a total of 56 apartments, 44 will be priced at just under half a million Mexican pesos (about $25,000), the legal limit for a social housing unit. The remaining 12 units will be available at market price to families with federal Infonavit (workers’ housing) credit. “I hope other people will see our project and think it is possible to achieve density and affordability in the city center,” Idenburg said. Finding central but affordable lots is an ongoing challenge for agencies like IMUVI, but Idenburg hopes Las Américas can become a model for social housing in city centers and inspire projects in developing economies facing similar conditions.
Mexican practice Escobedo Soliz recently completed two schools in Mexico's Puebla region, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2017. According to the architects, over 200 public schools were destroyed in the region, which spurred a group of private investors to commission the firm to create two primary schools in the town of Santa Isabel Cholula. The team had only nine months to design and build both structures, leading to the selection of a modular, prefabricated system. The two schools use repetitive, single-story, barn-like modules with skylights along their ridges and red-pigmented precast concrete panels on their exteriors. The modules are arranged along covered porticos that act as outdoor hallways.
From 9 to 12 March, MEXTRÓPOLI Festival of Architecture and City celebrates its sixth edition. MEXTRÓPOLI is a ludic and reflective event that puts the voices of architects, town planners and authorities at the public's reach to generate knowledge about the city we inhabit. The occupation of public space with pavilions, the dialogue tables that involve the most prominent actors in issues such as urbanism and public policy, as well as a strong selection of speakers draw up a program that seeks to include citizens in all their meanings: Students, activists, urban planners and architects are welcome to experience the extraordinary city. Among the guests that will accompany us, there are names like the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, Pritzker Prize 2016; the Mexican chronicler Juan Villoro; the designer Carla Fernández; the Barcelona architect Benedetta Tagliabue; former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; the French architect Dominique Perrault, among others. In addition to the conferences, MEXTRÓPOLI will also inaugurate seven architecture exhibitions in different venues in Mexico City, as well as routes, workshops, dialogue tables, film screenings and other activities in public space. More than 100 activities, with an audience of 88 thousand people that include students, professionals and the general public, MEXTRÓPOLI is once again positioned as the best event to think about the directions of the city. From 9 to 12 March the extraordinary city lives
Opulent interiors, delicate dances of light and shadow, and 600 years of Mexican history will soon go on display at Manhattan’s Sean Kelly Gallery. Candida Höfer—In Mexico will run from February 2 through March 16 and present large-format architectural photographs from German artist Candida Höfer. Höfer traveled to Mexico in 2015 as part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year, a cultural and scientific exchange program between the two countries that showcased the partnership’s fruits in Mexico throughout 2016 and 2017. Höfer’s photographs, which took her across Mexico, are meticulously composed, ornate shots of grand halls, museums, palaces, and auditoriums, places of convergence that, in her series, are entirely empty. In a press release for the upcoming show, Höfer wrote that: “I realized that what people do in those places—and what the spaces do to them—is more obvious when nobody is present, just as an absent guest can often become the topic of conversation.” More than just large-scale photos of sweeping spaces, Candida Höfer—In Mexico will also put intimate aspects of each building on display as well. Light falling across a doorway, or hidden nooks, were captured by Höfer’s handheld camera and the fleeting instances stand in stark contrast to the much larger staged photographs. The photos are truly massive, each being at least 70 inches wide; by comparison, the more intimate photos will be presented as 16-and-9/16-inch-by-12-and-7/8-inch prints. While this is the first time Höfer’s Mexico series will be shown in New York, the show was previously on display in Mexico and the North Carolina Museum of Art.
As part of an effort to fulfill campaign promises of rooting out corruption and re-inviting the public to participate in the country’s electoral politics, Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, threw open the gates of the nation’s secretive presidential palace for the first time in over 80 years. Dubbed by some as the “Mexican Bernie Sanders” for his Leftist bona fides and populist messaging, Obrador—who is known colloquially by his initials as AMLO—invited the public to enjoy the 5,000-square-foot home and its expansive grounds amid inaugural celebrations over the weekend. The move is among the new Mexican president’s first official acts and includes converting the Bosque de Chapultepec–adjacent palace into a museum and cultural complex that will be free to the public. Plans call for converting an existing movie screening area in the palace into a community arts space, for example. AMLO has referred to the palace as a “haunted” place in the past and has vowed to continue living in his current home through 2019 when one of his young children will finish the current school year. The palace dates back to 1550 when it was built as a colonia-era flour mill and has been used as the official presidential residence since the 1930s. During its history, the residence has largely remained hidden from public view but under Mexico’s new regime, the public is finally getting a first-hand look. https://twitter.com/gobiernomx/status/1069378866441990145?s=21 But that’s not all. AMLO also plans to sell the nation’s presidential Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane and has vowed to fly commercial for official trips. A government-sponsored Twitter account posted a sale notice for the “seminuevo” jet over the weekend, though a price was not listed. Keep an eye out on Mexico City’s controversial and recently-canceled airport by Foster + Partners. Rumors began flying online over the weekend regarding whether the project—which is roughly 1/3 of the way built—was officially canceled or not. As Mexico begins the difficult process of paying back the investors who have already sunk money into the project ahead of an ambitious public and private-public works effort by AMLO, there will likely be more news on the airport and its fate.
A new building for the State of Mexico Boys and Girls Club (Club de Niños y Niñas del Estado de México) uses a brutalist style for a gentle purpose. The approximately 37,000 square foot building designed by Mexico City–based firm CCA | Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica will be a home for the nonprofits philanthropic programming in Ecatepec, one of the poorest and most violent parts of Mexico City. The concrete complex is organized around a central colonnade made of 24 interlocking arches, one for every vertebra found in the human spine. A single-story educational building, two-story arts center, and sports hall extend off the main axis, along with assorted outdoor plazas seating areas. The buildings were dimensioned using a modular system derived from the scale of the plywood formwork. The building is scheduled to be finished in January 2019 and occupied soon thereafter, but the latest photos show the project without any people in all of its bare béton brut glory.
Located in Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, KnitCandela is a 13-foot-tall curved concrete shell formed with a 3-D-knitted framework. The sculptural project is a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Architects' Computation and Design Group (ZHCODE), ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group (BRG) led by Philippe Block and Tom Van Mele with PhD student Mariana Popescu, and Mexico’s Architecture Extrapolated who managed the on-site execution of the project. Named in homage to the concrete-bending designs of architect and structural engineer Félix Candela, the pavilion rests on three parabolic arches, with interior threadwork fashioned to resemble traditional garb found in the federal state of Jalisco, 340 miles northwest of the country’s capital. The pavilion is an outdoor feature of the museum's new exhibition, Design as Second Nature, featuring four decades of Zaha Hadid Architects' (ZHA) research into construction technology and design innovation. The project builds upon ETH Zurich's numerous recent forays into lightweight concrete structures based on curved geometries and digitally designed formwork. Currently, the university is leading KnitCrete, a partnership with the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research in Digital Fabrication, to boost the technological expertise and production of hybrid and ultra-lightweight concrete structures. Past projects include an experimental concrete roof cast on 3-D printed sand formwork and an ultralight roof cap composed of a polymer textile and a network of steel cables. According to ETH Zurich, Block and Van Mele’s research group plugged a digitally generated pattern into an industrial knitting machine to produce the formwork. Over the course of 36 hours, the flat-bedded mechanism knitted over 200 miles of polyester yarn into four 3-D double-layered strips. To suspend the canopy, the upper layer of the textile bears a series of sleeves for the insertion of supporting cables. Additionally, the woven formwork integrated 1,000 inflatable modeling balloons that were transformed into waffle shell-like voids following the initial coating of concrete. The entire woven assembly, weighing a meager 55 pounds, was transported to the location via two suitcases stowed as normal checked baggage. Once onsite, the double-layered textile was tensioned between a steel-and-wood boundary frame and subjected to an initial millimeters-thick concrete coating. After hardening and the creation of a lightweight mold, the team poured five tons of fiber-reinforced concrete over the original 120-pound polyester-and-cable framework. The pavilion will remain in place until March 3, 2019.
Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
In Mexico, handcrafts and folk art have shaped society for centuries. Often referred to as artesanía—a blend of indigenous and European designs—the country’s rich history of artisanal techniques has generated some of the most celebrated handmade objects, from the decorative to the utilitarian. Today, while crafts products enjoy a resurgence in popularity, inequalities persist, posing a number of obstacles in sustaining centuries-old traditions. Since 2009, the Oaxaca-based organization Innovando la Tradición has been invested in rethinking the imperatives of clay-based crafts, while promoting sustainable practices. Besides running educational activities across potters’ communities in the region, the group’s commercial branch, Colectivo 1050°, identifies opportunities for the distribution of handmade objects to contemporary and high-end markets. AN Interior contributor Benoît Loiseau speaks with cofounder Diego Mier y Terán about the organization's challenges and hopes. AN INTERIOR: You’ve spoken extensively about the risks of seeing Oaxacan pottery disappear. Are you noticing any progress? COLECTIVO: It’s likely that 40 percent of the villages will stop producing pottery within our lifetime. That said, I think there’s hope, and we have seen villages revive their craft traditions. There’s currently a trend in the market for crafts and handmade products, and we are witnessing an increased interest in traditional pottery and ceramics. It is one of our missions to elevate the economic value of traditional pottery, but also its cultural and symbolic value. Ultimately, though, our goal is to change the narrative around how artisans are perceived and presented in the dominant discourse of institutions—one based on the exoticization of otherness—from museums, NGOs, designers, chefs, and government. AN: Do you find that younger generations are interested in taking up the craft? Is there an issue of perception? C: For young people, to see their parents struggling financially in the profession is clearly not an incentive. Earth is seen as something dirty, not elegant, cool, or modern. For that generation it often feels more dignified to build cars or computers. But we have seen changes when communities start earning more, with increased sales. The whole relationship within the family then changes, with children looking to take part in the workshops. We just had an exhibition at the Franz Mayer Museum [Mexico City], where we showed traditional pieces, made in the present day. It’s a big change; it’s really saying that the craft is alive. Clay is so ingrained in the history of Mexico—and of humankind—if given a little window, people will engage. AN: A number of contemporary designers in Mexican cities work closely with artisans and craftsmen. How do you envisage best practice? C: Best practice is in the making, but I don’t see a critical discussion taking place around design in Mexico at the moment, particularly in terms of colonizing practices. Designers are fixed on the fetishization of crafts, with little consideration for social change. It’s a dangerous and harmful situation for artisanal communities because designers are reproducing inequalities. AN: In August you curated the IV Encuentro Nacional Alfarero Independiente, the fourth edition of the national gathering of potters and artisans from 12 states and 25 different villages, which gathered over 85 participants this year. What was the focus of the event? C: The main focus was on sharing knowledge. It is very rare for artisans, particularly potters, to share knowledge and techniques with other villages, even less so other states. On the one hand, because the work demands to be in a closed environment, but also because there’s a certain level of competition—they’re nervous their work would be copied. AN: Can you tell me about one of your most significant pieces? C: The Tonaltepec Bowl is made with a very unique technique. Archaeologists have found examples in the area dating from as far back as 4,000 years. Still 30 years ago, most of the women in that remote village worked with clay, selling their products at the local market. When we visited in 2012, only five ladies were working with clay, and two years later, they had basically stopped, because the market had disappeared. So we started a series of workshops with the children in the village and other members of the community. Altogether, this generated somewhat of a revival, and production resumed. The bowl made it to Noma’s pop-up restaurant in Tulum last year. AN: How do you redistribute profit, and ensure that your activities are sustainable? C: Most of the products we sell are continuous. We test them, to see if the market responds to them. Forty to 50 percent of the retail price of the product goes back to the artisans. The rest goes to operations—maintaining shops, administration, packaging—then there’s a marginal 10 percent profit that pays for the activities of Innovando la Tradición.
Brought to you with support fromCompleted in June 2018, the Palace for Mexican Music is a bold intervention in the heart of historic Mérida, Mexico, that establishes a relationship with the surrounding century-old architectural milieu through lightly detailed limestone and dramatic matte-black steel ribs. The design team consisted of four local practices: Alejandro Medina Arquitectura, Reyes Ríos + Larraín arquitectos, Muñoz Arquitectos, and Quesnel Arquitectos.
Mayan structures. Seen from above, the nearly 100,000-square-foot Palace for Mexican Music is organized around a U-shaped courtyard, called the “Patio of Strings,” which faces the rear elevation of the four-century-old Church of the Third Order. A series of newly constructed alleyways rhythmically break the solid stone mass to provide routes of entry between the courtyard and the complex’s library, museum, and concert halls. Mayabtun Marmoles, a local stone supplier, harvested local Yucatán limestone, referred to as Crema Maya or Macedonia Limestone, for the project’s cladding and flooring. The panels, measuring 4 feet by 1.5 feet, are embellished with a polished or hammered finish. Each panel is fastened to the complex’s steel frame with aluminum holding brackets produced by Sistema Masa While the use of local building material is a direct visual nod to the physical character of the Centro Historico, the design team went a step further with the facades' stone and fenestration pattern. The vertical bands of stone are meant to serve as notational bars while the glass panels are notes from the popular Yucatan folk song, Esta Tarde Vi Llover. The 444 matte-black steel ribs are the defining element of the north elevation and courtyard. In both areas, the 30-foot hollow-steel ribs are fastened to an exterior rail that is in turn soldered to a series of corbels that protrude from the floor plates. Corridors within the courtyard are semi-open to the elements, wrapped by a glass balcony and sheltered by the stone-clad steel frame. To shield this area from sunlight, the steel ribs break into two planes, one vertical, the other slanted. For the four-firm team, the design of the Palace for Mexican Music is an attempt to "establish a new precedent for a public building to contribute to the revitalization of its surrounding space" through the use of contextual contemporary design and accessible public space. After a rigorous research and design process, their final execution has achieved that goal.The provincial capital of Mérida is located on the northern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula, a region noted for its distinct Mayan culture, and nearly two-thirds of the city’s population is indigenous. Mérida’s Spanish core consists of a broad range of colonial architecture built of locally sourced limestone, much of it ripped from