Fernando Romero's new Archivo gallery
to feature jutting floorplates


News: construction is set to begin later this year on a new six-storey home for Mexican design and architecture gallery Archivo, designed by emerging studio Zeller & Moye and overseen by Mexican architect and gallery founder Fernando Romero.

Conceived as a "raw exoskeleton" of splayed concrete floorplates, the new gallery in Mexico City will provide extensive exhibition and events space for Archivo, which was launched two years ago by FR-EE principal Fernando Romero to promote industrial design from the twentieth century up to the present.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

Zeller & Moye planned the building as a stack of irregular floors that will project in different directions, creating a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces amongst the surrounding jungle-like greenery.

Staircases will spiral around the perimeter of the floors, connecting the various balconies and terraces, while transparent glass walls will be set back from the facade to enclose the spine of the structure.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

"Our design for Archivo represents a new building typology in Mexico City," said Christoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye, whose practice is based in both Mexico City and Berlin.

They continued: "The vertically stacked open floors full of life and activity connect the building with its surroundings, thereby challenging the trend for enclosed facades and stimulating an upcoming neighbourhood through culture and design."

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

The new building will accommodate galleries for both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, as well as a section dedicated to the history of Mexico City, a library, a restaurant and bar, and a number of workshop and events rooms.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

Romero explained: "We are aiming to create the premier forum for contemporary design in Latin America, giving voice to young designers, creating dialogue and awareness about architecture and design in the region."

"Building upon how we approach projects at FR-EE and in Archivo's collaborative spirit, I wanted the new building to be designed in collaboration with other architects to create the ultimate platform and infrastructure around the collection's activities," he added.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

Archivo will relocate to the new building from a space it has outgrown at the former home and studio of celebrated architect Luis Barragan.

"After two years, the thought of a new ground-up facility in which to create and design new shows is thrilling," said gallery director Regina Pozo.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE

Green spaces surrounding the building will be open to the local community and are expected to be used for activities such as dance classes and urban gardening.

Here's a project description from the design team:

Archivo by Zeller & Moye in collaboration with FR-EE

'Archivo' is a new space for Mexico City offering an exciting mixture of manifold programs, that aims to further enrich the cultural and social life of the metropolis.

Located in the heart of Mexico City, the new cultural hub is comprised of spaces for temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of design pieces as well as room for educational and communal activities, social events and commercial use. 'Archivo' will attract both locals and first-time visitors, and will thus bring new life and regenerative energy into an undiscovered part of central Mexico City.

Diagram showing the exhibition levels of Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE
Exhibition configurations - click for larger image

The building is designed as a raw exoskeleton that opens up to the surrounding jungle-like greenery. Like a tree, the open structure consists of vertical spines and floor plates that branch out horizontally to offer terraces at different levels with views into the green as well as over the city. Its six floors, orientated according to the irregular city grid, can be explored via a generous spiralled route that wraps along the building's perimeter and meanders up through various functions at each level. Each function is partially located inside, with a portion situated on covered terraces in an unusual semi-open condition benefitting from Mexico's year-long moderate climate.

Ground floor plan of Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

Large open stairs connect the terraces, creating a continuous open territory that can be programmed and appropriated by its users as a stage, exhibition display, for social events or to meet and socialise. These activities animate the elevations of the building, clearly visible from the street, and from the inside of the park. The pure structure is completed by glazed facades set back from the slab edge to provide shade and privacy, whilst the more public functions occur along the active edges. A truly transparent and lively building is achieved that emanates outwards to the surrounding city.

Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE
Second floor plan - click for larger image

'Archivo diseño y arquitectura' is an exclusive and vast collection of design items that will be displayed in open galleries enclosed only by glass in clear opposition to the traditional walled exhibition space. This open condition allows visitors to enjoy views into the exhibition areas both at a distance when approaching the building as well as when passing by more closely on the vertical public route. As the final destination point, a new "City Floor" is located on the building's top level with a publicly accessible exhibition about the history and future of Mexico City against the backdrop of magnificent skyline views.

Fifth floor of Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE
Fourth floor plan - click for larger image

A wide spectrum of communal life forms an integral part of the project. Inside the green park-like terrain and immediately adjacent to the building, new multi-functional spaces for workshops, dance classes and socialising, as well as outdoor areas for urban gardening, serve as new destinations for the local community.

Section of Archivo by Zeller & Moye and FR-EE
Cross section - click for larger image

Project type: Open archive of a design collection and spaces for cultural programs
Project name: Archivo
Location: Mexico City
Architects: Zeller & Moye: Christoph Zeller, Ingrid Moye, Directors
Team: Omar G. Muñoz, Marielle Rivero Collaborators: FR-EE: Fernando Romero, Director
Program: Permanent & temporary exhibition spaces, library, multi-use space, workshops, commerce and offices
Status: In development
Size (m2 and ft2): 3,000 m2 / 32,300 ft2
Date: 2013 - 2016
Cost: USD $4,000,000

  • jmt

    Good luck with getting the floor plates that thin without huge edge beams. 10-15′ overhangs with stairs and people on top is impossible with those skinny floors. Looks like it was designed by someone who hasn’t used concrete before.

    • H-J

      The floor plates look thinner on the eye, just check the section. And anyway, some concrete gymnastics are possible, OMA’s Educatorium for instance has the steel reinforcement outside of the slab: http://dc339.4shared.com/doc/mdMMjHLo/preview.html

  • Colonel Pancake

    Those are some ambitious cantilevers.

  • jmt

    Yeah they tried to taper the edge of the concrete in the section to make it look thinner but still it appears to be maybe 12-18″ thick at its maximum, which without proper edge beams is impossible with 10-15′ overhangs. Especially problematic in Mexico City which I believe is in a seismic zone.

    The example you show from OMA is different since it folds the concrete plate to create arching action, which naturally is much more stable of a shape rather than a cantilevered plate. I don’t care how much reinforcing is in that slab, this won’t work without lots of steel and increase that slab depth by about 200-300%.

    • H-J

      It was not about the fold in the OMA example, but about the reinforcements being actually outside of the concrete slab to achieve maximum thinness of the slab.

      • cb

        Yes, I see the exterior steel on the auditorium roof, but in a cantilever the steel would need to be on the top of the slab.

  • Concerned Citizen

    While interesting from a pure arts point of view, it falls short on the practicality view. Isn’t Mexico City in the middle of a region with a high rate of seismic activity? I can see those thin plates waving as they crumble down in a 4.5 shaker.

    I imagine the built structure will be consumed with columns and beams, but then again, this is Mexico.

    • joaquindcn

      I’ll only say that Mexico City’s strong earthquakes are in the 7-8 richter region. 4.5ers we don’t even notice anymore.

  • mglm

    Structural engineering won’t be a problem. Yes Mexico City is a seismic area but that has not stopped it having great structures coming up. Of course, cost will be a big factor but I guess having the right client plus the fact that he is family with one of the richest men in the world. That always helps.

  • Jules

    How can you not think of 1111 in Miami Beach by Herzog & DeMeuron when looking at this?

  • usernimi

    Beautiful design but too scary from a structural point of view.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Nobody said it couldn’t be engineered. It just can’t be built with thin unsupported plates, family or no family.

  • Tarock

    I always see a nice car park.

  • Pablo Dibar

    It´s Herzog & de Meuron´s Miami Lincoln 1111 parking, but twisting and exaggerating the floors.

  • Gary Walmsley

    No railings? Are you serious? Good luck with those lawsuits!

  • Mariano

    Am I the only one who thinks of Miguel Fisac’s “pagoda” when looking at this proposal? >>

  • l’oncleb

    Trite. The point of being influenced by people is to further develop their ideas, not create a mashup of said well-known influences.

    Nod to SANAA and Herzog & de Meuron with a dash of OMA. Still, would be fun to work out how to build it!