Central America's largest museum of
Mayan culture to be built in Guatemala

| 11 comments
 

News: Swiss firm Harry Gugger Studio and Boston office over,under have teamed up to design Central America's largest museum of Mayan history and culture for a site in Guatemala City.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under

Planned for the northern edge of L'Aurora Park, the Museo Maya de América will house a vast collection of historical artefacts from the Mayan regions of southern Mexico and northern Central America, within an all-new structure that draws on the architecture of traditional Mayan temples.

The stone-clad exterior of the building will be punctured by a series of openings that draw light and ventilation through to a succession of galleries and corridors, which will be laid out in a chequerboard-like pattern.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under

"At first glance, the building appears to be a contemporary expression of Maya architectural elements," said Harry Gugger. "It forms a monolithic box perched atop blocks of stone, as if floating above the ground."

"On closer inspection, a pattern of staggered stone screens is punctuated by over-scaled loggias that draw light into the building and offer glimpses inside," he added.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under

The building will centre around a lofty courtyard modelled on a natural sinkhole, called a cenote, which will be surrounded by staircases.

"The central court evokes the cenote, a type of natural sinkhole characteristic of the Yucatan and held sacred by the Maya," said over,under principal Roberto de Oliveira Castro. "Open to the sky and lushly planted, the eight-storey cenote functions as the heart of the museum, its displays, and its activities."

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under

The ground floor will be opened out to its surroundings to encourage the public to explore the building, while the roof will accommodate gardens, outdoor galleries, viewing terraces and a restaurant.

Construction is expected to start in 2015, in collaboration with local studio Seis Arquitectos, and the building is scheduled to open in 2017.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under

Here's a project description from Harry Gugger Studio:


Museo Maya de América, Guatemala City

La Fundación Museo Maya de América unveils the design of Central America's largest museum of Maya artefacts and culture

The Museo Maya de América, to be located in Guatemala City, will become a leading venue for the public to view objects, artefacts, artworks, textiles, and information on the history and culture of the Maya civilisation. The institution is among the most ambitious cultural projects in the region, containing approximately 60,000 square metres of program (more than 600,000 square feet) with a construction budget of US$60 million.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
Site plan - click for larger image

"With an enormous sense of optimism and a vision for the future, we aim to create a museum that celebrates Maya culture and carefully explains it," stated Fernando Paiz, president of the sponsoring organisation Fundación Museo Maya de América. "We want the world to understand the sophistication and richness of this civilisation in Guatemala and beyond."

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

Sited at a prominent location at the northern edge of L'Aurora Park, the museum will be immediately visible when exiting Guatemala City's international airport. It will become the capstone to a series of museums, including the Children's Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. This cultural nexus-located in what is expected to become the largest recreational open space in the city—will provide a new destination for tourists and residents alike.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
First floor plan - click for larger image

The Museo Maya de América's striking design will contribute to that effort, drawing inspiration from the language of traditional Maya temple architecture without directly replicating it. "At first glance, the building appears to be a contemporary expression of Maya architectural elements," stated Harry Gugger, principal of Harry Gugger Studio. "It forms a monolithic box perched atop blocks of stone, as if floating above the ground. On closer inspection, a pattern of staggered stone screens is punctuated by over-scaled loggias that draw light into the building and offer glimpses inside." The building presents this large, abstract form to the surrounding city.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
Second floor plan - click for larger image

Organised for maximum public interaction with the site, the ground is given almost entirely to open space. The galleries reside within the floating box, connected to the lower levels by stairs that climb their way around a central courtyard.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
Third floor plan - click for larger image

"The central court evokes the cenote, a type of natural sinkhole characteristic of the Yucatan and held sacred by the Maya," stated Roberto de Oliveira Castro, principal of over,under. "Open to the sky and lushly planted, the eight-story cenote functions as the heart of the museum, its displays, and its activities." It forms an orientation point within the museum and extends down to the parking levels below ground, providing an interesting route into the museum and a special place to display underworld-related artefacts.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
Fourth floor plan - click for larger image

The building takes advantage of Guatemala's temperate climate by naturally ventilating all but a small number of spaces that require artificial conditioning. The exhibition floors are organised in a chequerboard of galleries and circulation areas. The walls of the circulation spaces are lined with glass cases to place the collection of artefacts - normally in storage - on display.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
North elevation - click for larger image

The landscaped roof is returned to the general public as an accessible civic space, containing a restaurant, outdoor galleries, gardens, and viewing terraces. The large surface of the roof will be used to collect rainwater and filter it through the cenote in a manner recalling traditional Maya practices of channeling water.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
East elevation - click for larger image

The design of the Museo Maya de América has been developed by Harry Gugger Studio of Basel and over,under of Boston. Seis Arquitectos of Guatemala City will serve as the architect of record.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
South elevation - click for larger image

Conceptual design work has been completed, and a fundraising campaign has commenced. Construction is expected to start in 2015 with completion by 2017.

Museo Maya de America by Harry Gugger Studio and over,under
West elevation - click for larger image
  • spadestick

    Imagine if they had to deal with the wheelchair lifts for every platform.

  • Jacob

    Beautiful.

  • Anthony

    Interesting project and at the same time sad that it was a direct commission and not the result of a competition. Shame for Guatemala, but who cares? It’s good architecture.

    • tkbrdly

      Competitions devalue architects.

  • Hector Villeda

    Just beautifu! I love it!

  • Chris MacDonald

    Beautiful. If the finished project looks anything like the renders, it will be wonderful.

  • Juan Ochoa

    Awful architecture,. Ssaying is an abstraction of a cenote is like placing God in hell, besides the cantilevered elements is something you will never find in Mayan architecture.

  • sean

    Excellent. Can’t wait. One correction: La Aurora Park. I live right next door. It’s not French.

  • Andrea

    Beautiful architecture project but did you know that this lawn is occupied with a historic heritage of Guatemala called Mercado de Artesanias a wonderful place actually and it’s really a shame and ironic that we don’t really care about the history of our country, instead we choose to destroy the things that are iconic symbols of Guatemala.

  • Mischael

    Wow! :)

  • julio

    Sad too… because actually where they want it to build it is where the Handicraft market is. There is a LOT of space in the surrounding area not occupied by people… so where is the business? Who?

    The people of the streets will loose a great lump of the city, actually the parking is free and the entrance too. How much will an hour of parking cost and how much for the entrance fee? Sad for Guatemala, here it comes another good business for the politicians!