Rojkind Arquitectos renovates Mexico's
National Film Archive and Film Institute

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An aluminium canopy speckled with triangular perforations shelters the space between old and new buildings at Mexico's National Film Archive and Film Institute, recently renovated by Rojkind Arquitectos (+ slideshow).

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Mexican firm Rojkind Arquitectos was tasked with upgrading the existing facilities of the campus in Xoco, south of Mexico City, as well as adding extra cinema screens, an outdoor amphitheatre and additional storage vaults for the film archive.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Rebranded as Cineteca Nacional Siglo XXI, the complex is used a cut-through from a local metro station, which prompted the architects to create a sheltered space at the centre of the campus that functions as both a public gathering area and a lobby for the buildings.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

"We didn't want it to feel like you're in the lobby of a commercial cinema, we wanted it to feel more like a university campus, with everything floating in a park" said studio founder Michel Rojkind.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

The aluminium-clad canopy curves downwards to form the facade of a pair of new buildings. These accommodate four extra screening rooms, bringing the overall total up to ten, and create a two-storey zone for shops, cafes and seating areas.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

"The added amenities have turned the campus into a favourite gathering space not only for moviegoers but also for Xoco residents and workers who have appropriated the space as if it were their backyard," said the design team.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Two archive vaults were added to the existing four, making room for 50,000 extra reels of film, and a museum dedicated to the history of Latin American cinema was constructed.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Car parking areas previously dotted  around the campus have been consolidated into a single six-storey building, creating space for planted landscaping and the new 750-seat amphitheatre.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Photography is by Paul Rivera, apart from where otherwise stated.

Here's a project description from Rojkind Arquitectos:


Cineteca Nacional Siglo XXI

Located in the southern quadrant of Mexico City, the National Film Archive and Film Institute of Mexico is home to the most important film heritage of Latin America. Its campus occupied an underutilised site of considerable dimensions within the strangled town of Xoco. This historic town, once surrounded by agricultural land, now sits deep within the urban sprawl and faces extinction due to economic and political pressures from developers and municipal authorities which covet its privileged location.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Photograph by Jaime Navarro

The existing complex dated from 1982, when a fire destroyed part of the campus and most of its archive, and was a "temporary" facility never well suited for its purpose. Additionally, thousands of people cross the grounds daily as they walked to and from one of the city's nearby metro station, Estación Metro Coyoacan.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos

Facing total renewal, Cineteca's original project brief included the expansion and renovation of the existing complex incorporating additional vault space and four more screening rooms. But in response to the immediate urban condition, additional restorative work needed to be done to reclaim part of the site as public space, give relief to the dense new-development - filled surroundings of Xoco and accommodate the constant flow of pedestrians and casual visitors.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Photograph by Jaime Navarro

First, surface parking was consolidated into a six-storey structure freeing 40% of the site. Then the pedestrian friendly "back entrance", located across the street from the historic town's cemetery, was reactivated - 70% of Cineteca patrons use public transportation and arrive by foot. The reclaimed space now houses the new program organised along two axes, one perpendicular to the street of Real Mayorazgo becoming the main pedestrian entrance and the other perpendicular to Av. México-Coyoacán for both car and pedestrian access.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Photograph by Jaime Navarro

The axes intersection became a new 80m x 40m public plaza sheltered from the weather by a hovering canopy connecting the existing complex with the new screening rooms. Clad in composite aluminium panels, with varied size triangular perforations, the roof structure wraps around the new screening rooms and becomes their facade. The sheltered space functions as the foyer for the old and new screening rooms and can accommodate additional program options such as concerts, theatre, exhibitions, etc.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Concept diagrams - click for larger image

An outdoor amphitheatre, extensive landscaping and new retail spaces were added to the original program expanding the possibilities for social and cultural interaction and exchanges, and giving the complex a university campus feel.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Site plan - click for larger image

The new screening rooms seat 180 each and the existing screening rooms were updated with current technology. Overall the complex can now seat 2,495 visitors in indoor theatres. The outdoor amphitheatre has a 750-person capacity. Two new film vaults were also added to the site, increasing Cineteca's archive capacity by 50,000 reels of film. Parking capacity was also increased by 25% to a total of 528 cars.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

The thousands of people that use the grounds everyday now find welcoming unrestricted public space: commuters still walk back and forth across the campus in the morning and evening, medical staff from a nearby hospital stop by to eat their lunches at noon, students hang out at the park in the afternoon, and moviegoers attend free outdoor events in the evening. The added amenities have turned the campus into a favourite gathering space not only for moviegoers but also for Xoco residents and workers who have appropriated the space as if it were their backyard.

Cineteca Nationale by Rojkind Arquitectos
Section - click for larger image

Architectural project: Rojkind Arquitectos
Interior design: Alberto Villareal Bello, Esrawe Studio
Structural engineer: CTC Ingenieros
Roof structure engineer: Studio NYL
MEP: IPDS
Landscape consultant: Ambiente Arquitectos
A/V consultant: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
Acoustical consultant: Seamonk
Lighting consultant: Ideas y Proyectos en Luz
Graphic design: Citrico + Welcome Branding

Program: Cultural
Construction Area: 49,000 m2
Location: Mexico City

  • ConcernedNeighbour

    If I was a reader from Shanghai, Oslo or Delhi I would assume we are talking about a great project that managed to transform the dwelling a very respected cultural institution into a renovated urban-cultural-leissure path connecting different nodes of a traditional neighbourhood that has been eaten slowly by uncontrolled urban interventions.

    But, since I am reader from Mexico City who actually lives in the area and drives/walks in front of it twice a day, I would say the project description given is not accurate to the reality.

    The project just does not work the way it’s portrayed and described. On the contrary, it is really alienated from its context and all the Make-Up added to the original buildings is falling apart.

    My comment comes from an “user” and “neighbour” approach, and as an user and a neighbour I would have appreciated the realisation of the architects idea/dream that actually seems quite interesting. If that was the case I would have congratulated them but since it’s not my appreciation goes to the photographer for creating beautiful images of a project that could have had a great impact on a small neighbourhood in one of the most chaotic cities in the world.

    I think sometimes architects should be more aware of the social responsibility they have on their shoulders – most of all when a public commission is directly assigned to them – instead of focusing on the cool photographs that will appear in magazines.

    The photos look great though.