The project for the Tenaris-Tamsa offices in Veracruz, Mexico focused on three key elements: delivering modern, functional offices; retaining the essential flavour of the local Mexican culture, and especially, capturing the iconic essence of the country’s landscapes and architectures, from pre-Hispanic and Hispanic through to contemporary vernacular building styles. The complex comprises six buildings: a distribution mall; a services facility – with reception, bank, travel agency and auditorium - and four office buildings. All the technical services and equipment are housed underground in a basement floor that mirrors the ground plan.
Pivotal to the project, the large mall presents as a gateway into the factory from the outside world. It is also a distribution corridor leading off to the buildings on either side. Its long, constant width is topped by an upper trapezoid section. While typically state-of-the-art steel mill design, the roof’s shape also recalls an archetypal cavern of the Cumaean Sibyl, corridors leading into the pyramids or even, a Maya arch. The mall’s metal structure is clad externally with zinc-titanium panels and internally with plasterboard.
The continuous surfaces are broken only by narrow windows reaching to the roof that cast long strips of intense luminosity onto the corridor below. The mall’s shape and size immediately denote it as the main public space of the complex. The buildings accessed from it have reinforced concrete frames while their walls are build in the local tradition and they jut out into the mall by about a metre.
The basic element of the façade is the typical “L”-shaped element of the “almenas”, the jointly decorative and defensive crenelation that topped pre-Hispanic buildings in the region of Veracruz. The sequence of these elements creates the window spaces. In the two-storey buildings, the two rows of “L”-shaped elements are set in staggered fashion, highlighting the motif to great effect. Again in the Mexican tradition, every building is painted a different colour with no concern for gradual colour grading.
The 2 two-storey buildings on the left of the mall house the offices. The buildings end in glazed stair wells and are connected by a passage and the metal panelling and glazing structure of the cafeteria. On the right, the mall leads to three other buildings: a bank, travel agency and auditorium in that order. The other two buildings house the senior management offices and the IT service unit. The auditorium is a typical, well-shaped, quarter circle. The internal walls are clad in perforated aluminium sound-proofing panels.
The foyer has a large glazed wall while a masonry wall with square-shaped openings serves both as a sun screen and an enclosure for an exhibition area of Mexican art. On display are “Judas” and other typical Mexican figures, made out of papier maché by Mexican artist, Spindola, who also created the “alebrijes” skeletons hanging from the mall ceiling.
A large 3x9 m “mensaje” by Goeritz in perforated gilded sheet steel hangs in the auditorium foyer above the entrance door and near the staircase in untreated oxidised sheet steel. Two other works by Goeritz grace the entrance to the senior management offices: one, a circle and the other, a huge square of gold leaf.