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Exposed Structure Defines Design Center in Mexico
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Exterior rendering of the building, which displays concrete slab floors that have been rotated slightly around the axis
In the design, each of the structure’s concrete slab floors have been rotated slightly around the axis of the central concrete spine, subverting traditional, rectilinear lines. Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

The new home of a design center that will be located in Mexico City highlights the concrete “exoskeleton” of its structural systems, playing with angle and space in the process.

March 11, 2014—When art and design collections grow large enough to merit new, dedicated buildings, exciting things can happen as architects and engineers stretch the boundaries of expectations and tradition. Such is the case with a new building under development in Mexico City that has been designed to highlight the raw concrete “exoskeleton” of its structural systems, while playing with sight lines, angles, and interior and exterior spaces.

The project, inspired by architect Felix Candela’s thin shell designs, is a public design center that will house the collection of Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura and was created by architects Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye of Mexico City-based Zeller & Moye, in collaboration with the architecture firm FR-EE/Fernando Romero Enterprise, also based in the city.

Christoph Zeller, a partner of Zeller & Moye who, together with partner Ingrid Moye, is responsible for the design and management of the project, responded in writing to questions posed by Civil Engineering online. “The concept of the building is: structure = building,” he said. “Only where necessary [do] we introduce additional elements such as glass panes to create enclosed spaces.”

The new building will be located in an up-and-coming area of the city, where established neighborhoods meet a stretch of public parkland. 

Exterior rendering of new building that highlights the raw “exoskeleton” of its concrete structure

A new building that highlights the raw “exoskeleton” of its concrete
structure is under development in an up-and-coming area of Mexico
City, where established neighborhoods meet a stretch of public
parkland. The building will house the public design center
Archivo
Diseño y Arquitectura. Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

“Due to the extraordinary location within a junglelike park we felt strongly that any architecture has to respond and open up to this fantastic, rich greenery,” Zeller said. “This led us to an extreme scheme of a pure shell, almost like a tree structure that can be inhabited by city dwellers, offering them an experience similar to the perspective animals in the trees might have.”

The 3,000 m2, six-story building is designed with a steel-reinforced concrete core and concrete slabs that subvert traditional, rectilinear lines. Instead, each floor has been rotated slightly around the central axis of the concrete spine of the building to form a silhouette that fashions the sharp, structural concrete shapes in an almost organic fashion. Glass panes enclose some interior spaces, but numerous covered exterior terraces offer views of the city and provide a semiopen space for exhibits and visitors to enjoy. A large, open staircase that will expand and contract as it spirals upward around the perimeter of the building will carry visitors through the terraces and double as additional locations for meetings, exhibitions, or resting spaces.

The building is meant to be “pure structure,” according to material provided by the architects. It is “a three-dimensional framework of blade walls, slabs, and structural stair elements,” Zeller said. Posttensioned cables will be integrated into the slabs to achieve the desired cantilevers, and the edges of the slabs will be tapered to hide the ends of the posttensioning and to help reduce the weight of the cantilevers, he said. The stairs will be formed by deep stringers that tie the slabs together.

Model rendering of building which displays glass panes to enclose interior spaces

The 3,000 m2, six-story structure incorporates glass panes to
enclose interior spaces. A large, open staircase that will expand
and contract as it spirals upward around the perimeter of the
building will carry visitors through large, multifunctional exterior
terraces. Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

Now that the preliminary conceptual design has been completed, the design team will move on to detailed planning, according to Zeller. This phase will elaborate on the planned seismic structural system, which is currently slated to be a combination of solid anchoring in the ground and a series of thin walls that will stiffen the structure, he noted.

“We are aware that the cantilevers of the structural slabs will continue to be the main challenge for the project as it is developed,” Zeller said. “The engineering of the concrete and its quality on-site will play a key role in the success of our ambition, [but] Mexico has seen a lot of experiments in concrete throughout the last 50 years with fantastic results.”

Archivo was established in 2012 to promote and exhibit the best of industrial design from the early 20th century to the present. The design center’s collection has already grown to more than 1,300 objects, requiring more space that its current gallery can provide. The new building, which is slated to break ground later this year, will consolidate Archivo’s exhibits and operations into one building.

Archivo’s new building will contain permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a library, a multiuse educational and meeting space, workshops, a bookstore, and offices, according to material provided by the architects.


 

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