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A New Lease of Life for Mexican Modernism

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A New Lease  of Life for Mexican Modernism
By Raymund Ryan -

The community cultural center in the small town of Teotitlán del Valle is nimble and assured. In the southern state of Oaxaca, Teotitlán is famous for its tapestries, carpets and weaving; with a wonderful urban structure, the town has however few recent buildings of note. The architects for the project, PRODUCTORA, are known for intellect and cultural finesse. While the community cultural center has still to be fully occupied, it nevertheless shows PRODUCTORA’s adroitness at conceptualizing a civic institution in tune with context. Similar traits are evident at the Teopanzolco auditorium, recently completed by PRODUCTORA in Cuernavaca in collaboration with Isaac Broid, also from Mexico City. Different in form and scale, the two projects share a sense of strategic thinking characteristic of PRODUCTORA. Each has a distinct and distinctive morphology in reciprocity with its urban and topographic setting. The Teotitlán project is a linear bar, cranking in plan to reinforce its site and split to create a portico that shelters entrances and a generous flight of steps descending to the village stream. In Cuernavaca, the auditorium is planned as a giant triangle rising above the principal performance space with a higher, supplementary triangle above the foyer. This is an architecture of emphatic geometry. In the case of Cuernavaca, such boldness is in response to adjacent temple ruins dating from the 14th and 15th Centuries. In Teotitlán the new architecture works with an urban fabric at once vernacular and classical; in fact, the sequential gardens and terraces of the town also date from pre-Columbian times. The new structure stitches together older, stoa-like buildings (housing weavers) that face a long rectangular plaza, reinforcing one corner of this outdoor public room. The roof of PRODUCTORA’s insertion continues as a unifying element across the entry void with its grand staircase. The Cuernavaca building is a more direct...

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