Tamayo Museum Atizapan Extension
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Tamayo Museum Atizapan Extension

Rojkind Arquitectos as Architects

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. Named after the Oaxacan born artist Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), the very strong and symbolic shape of the cross is a direct interpretation of the client’s preliminary program studies that defined the museum’s optimal functionality.


The main concept of Tamayo Museum Atizapan Extension is an “open box” that unfolds, opens and invites the visitors inside. Package, restoration and storage will serve as additional cultural spaces for visitors to understand the stages that an art piece goes through in order to get to its specific destination.


This is a very direct, strong and symbolic project, where the shape derives from the client’s preliminary studies that defined the optimal functionality and was then enhanced by taking advantage of the best views from above, making the best of the steep terrain and shading the more social program below, exterior and interior spaces overlap to provide the best environment possible for each function, and optimal climatic performance.


Michel Rojkind, Rojkind Arquitectos Understanding that contemporary art spaces pretend to be more important than the art they contain, our proposal arises from the scheme of requirements previously studied by our clients, assuring maximum functionality in each area while focusing on the development of art projects. By enhancing the program and understanding the topography, a balance between form, function and visual impact for this important space was created. Once the functional part was improved, we could pay attention to details that make the space not only a cultural enclosure, but also a building that understands its surroundings to distinguish itself and transform from a simple form to a powerful symbol, controversial, but ideal to lodge this new space.The permeable brick shading façade eliminates or reduces the need for ACand combines good daylight with no sunshine and plenty of natural ventilation. However, it will be the museum’s symbolic provocation of its form and content that will attract its visitors, once there, they will discover that its design, though modest, is intelligently and sustainably planned.


Bjarke Ingels, BIG Partner-in-Charge When you ask contemporary artists what kind of space they would prefer to exhibit their work in – they almost always describe old industrial warehouses or loft spaces. It is the kind of space where they have their studios, but most importantly the rough structures, with large spans and generous ceiling heights provides them with the maximum freedom of expression. On the other hand the museum director or the mayor might want an icon to attract visitors. So museum design is often caught in a dilemma between the artist’s demand for functional simplicity and the museum’s (and architect’s) desire to create a landmark. The cantilevering cross is the literal materialization of the cruciform functional diagram – devoid of any artistic interpretation. Tamayo Museum Atizapan Extension becomes the embodiment of pure function and pure symbol at the same time.

Instant Icon

BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group as Architects

A month before Christmas 2008, our good friend and colleague Michel Rojkind invited us to collaborate on a competition for an art storage and gallery for the Tamayo Museum. The site was at the top of a steep hillside in Atizapan overlooking the Madin Dam and Mexico City. Time was short - TWO weeks until deadline. The brief was hyper-specific: 80% storage and 20% gallery. It even included drawings of a phantom design: a cruciform of 2 axes: a storage and gallery intersecting the loading dock and restoration workshop.


Contemporary artists prefer to exhibit their work in former factories because purely utilitarian structures provides the artist with complete freedom of expression. Furthermore, the Bilbao Effect has created a global demand for iconic museums. How could we resolve the artists’ demand for functional flexibility, with the director’s demand for spectacular architecture ?


The short deadline didn’t allow any time to test alternatives. We simply started from one end. Rather than trying to force a cool shape onto the brief, we adopted the phantom layout: A cross. Since the logistics of a storage and handling facility demands flat floors for forklifts, we needed to put a big flat building on a very steep site: A cross cantilevering over the slope. Visitors would arrive from the street above the roof and descend down into the galleries. The loading dock was directly connected to the street further down the slope.


Additional program for visitors like a restaurant and restrooms were nested under the cantilever enjoying the cool shade of the cross above and the beautiful view of Mexico city below.


For the facades, we proposed white painted bricks with varying gaps between them. By controlling the gap between them - in 6 different widths - we turn the brick wall into a lighting and shading device.


The different sizes of dark holes in the white wall constitute a giant grayscale reproduction of a Tamayo canvas.


The cantilevering cross is the literal materialization of the functional diagram - devoid of any artistic interpretation/ Pure function and pure symbol at the same time!


An instant icon.

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