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2018 MCHAP

Museo Internacional del Barroco

Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects

Puebla, Mexico

February 2016


Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects


Estudio Arquitectura S.A. de C.V. / Federico Bautista (Local Architect)


Francisco Xabier Albizuri Morett (Secretario de Infraestructura, Mobilidad, Transportes, Gobierno del Estado de Puebla, México)


Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects


The Museo Internacional del Barroco is a new institution situated in Mexico's fourth largest city, Puebla, listed itself as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1987 for its exceptional wealth in Baroque Art and architecture. The museum is the first of its kind to purely focus on Baroque Culture on a global level, as it was the first art form to spread internationally across the continents. Its vision is to act as a hinge between specialists in America, Europe and Asia. Research and Exhibitions are uniquely aimed at uniting all forms of Baroque Art and expression, including painting, sculpture, architecture, music, theatre, literature, cuisine and fashion. Our aim was to interpret the essence of this moment of Counter-Reformation that broke with the strict rules of the Renaissance, developing into an art-form driven purely by sentiment. We therefore came up with three guidelines for a contemporary design: 1. Much of contemporary architecture isolates itself from the exterior in order to control the interior and is based on a functional grid. Starting with a rigid order, this can be dissolved creating an outflow, obtaining a fluid space as a final result. 2. Beautiful Light. In Baroque, vertical light symbolizes a revelation from God, in the museum each exhibition room is connected to the next through a light-dome joining them like rosary beads. 3. Ecological Mechanism. Taking advantage of Puebla's low fluctuation in climate throughout the year, the museum's air conditioning system uses outside air (free-cooling) to reduce the building's energy load.


The museum site is located inside the Metropolitan Park on the outskirts of the municipalities of San Andrés de Cholula and Puebla. Towards the South this pleasant parkland is limited by the Atoyac river, which collects rainwater coming from the nearby Malinche mountain, whilst the museum is located on North side of the ground. Having opened in 2012, the park includes various educational spaces that focus on the interaction between man, society and nature, such as an experimental biological water purification system of the Atoyac River or planting areas of cacti seized in illegal plant trafficking. Inspired by this type of relation we decided to extend this concept of an educational walk inside the museum. The geometry of the building creates fluid spaces as water flows, with small light wells in-between exhibition rooms of Baroque Art that lead to the development of dialogue between nature and humans. In order to create a transition between the museum and the Metropolitan Park, we designed a lake that originates as a shallow and formal film of water close to the museum entrance, gradually transforming into a natural pond with free-growing vegetation around the edges the further we advance into the park. Additionally, the building collects sewage and rainwater, and once it is treated and passed through a cleaning process, it feeds into the lake and from there on to the Atoyac River, contributing to its cleaning. Conceptually the building "sprouts from the earth like spring water and grows" into a stream.


The Museo Internacional de Barroco is situated 7 kilometers outside the city centre of Puebla in an area of new development. In terms of urban connectivity it has helped to impulse a public transport bus system and extend a bike path circuit, linking the museum to surrounding parks and public spaces around the city. Since its opening in February 2016 the museum has received over 550.000 visitors with a majority of local and national tourists and a growing international interest. During the world's largest International Tourism Fair FITUR 2017 in Madrid the State of Puebla won the Tourism Excellency Award for the Museo Internacional del Barroco in the category of Cultural Innovation. Also recently the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal both featured articles on the museum highly acclaiming its architecture and its exhibition. Maya Kroth from the Washington Post speaks of a "spectactular all-white building" with delicate exterior walls that "look like paper stood on end" and an equally striking interior highlighted by the "sweeping curved staircase" and a "mesmerizing reflective pool". The truly international exhibition includes both permanent and temporary exhibits with loans from countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Philippines, or Spain, with the Museo del Prado being one of the main contributors. In September 2017 two major earthquakes hit the centre of Mexico destroying many historic buildings in the city of Puebla. The Museo Internacional del Barroco showed to be extremely resistant and took no damage thanks to its carefully designed extremely slim concrete wall structure.

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