Horno 3 by Grimshaw

Grimshaw architects have converted a decommissioned blast furnace into a museum of steel in Monterrey, Mexico.


Called Horno 3: Museo del Acero, the project involved converting the 70-metre-high furnace structure and adding an extension to create 9,000 square metres of interior and exterior exhibition space.


"Grimshaw responded appropriately with new design elements that advance the limits of steel fabrication," claim the architects. The building, which opened late last year, includes a central, cantilevered, steel staircase and tessellated steel-plate roof.


Photographs by Paul Rivera.

The following information is from Grimshaw:


Horno 3
Monterrey, Mexico

In summer of 2005, Grimshaw was commissioned to design Horno 3: Museo del Acero (Museum of Steel) in and around Horno Alto #3, a decommissioned Blast Furnace from the late 60s. It marks a return for Grimshaw to the industrial city of Monterrey, in north-eastern Mexico. An earlier commission in 1997 first introduced the firm to Monterrey’s steel-making heritage and its hulking Fundidora blast furnaces, which punctuate the skyline above an old steelworks on the site of what is now a popular and verdant park.

This Parque Fundidora is a National Industrial Archeological Heritage Site and receives more than two million visitors per year. The Museum aims to complete in autumn 2007 when the city hosts the International Culture Forum.

The design converts the 70-metre-high furnace structure into a series of habitable volumes, adding 9,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor museum space.

Intended to host an exposition of steel, the museum is being created partially as an adaptive re-use of the furnace, its platforms, tanks and control rooms, and partially as a new extension adjacent to the existing complex. The extraction and processing methods of steel, its material properties and its everyday uses will be interactively demonstrated. A thrilling pyrotechnic “Furnace Show”, housed in the old Cast Hall, will bring the blast furnace itself to simulated life and allow visitors the unique experience of touring inside it.

Grimshaw responded appropriately with new design elements that advance the limits of steel fabrication. A tessellated steel plate roof over the circular Steel Gallery demonstrates how, with today’s computer-aided technology, sheet material can be transformed like an origami maquette into structurally rigid forms by complex faceting.

Similarly the design of a central helical steel stair relied on extensive computed stress analysis to allow the optimization of its coiled stringer and cantilevering treads to a daring tenuity.