This project is part of the original premises and property of the “Quinta Montes Molina” located in Merida, Yucatan. The house was built in 1906 and became an architectural icon and emblem of the Paseo Montejo, the most notorious avenue on the city in which most of the early century houses were built during the sisal boom.
The house began holding important social events in its gardens in the year 2000. In 2006 it also opened as a museum, displaying all its artifacts, original furniture, and art. In 2015 Materia was commissioned to design a pavilion that could hold social and cultural events while integrating a new architecture with the existing building. The pavilion was awarded the silver medal of the 2015 Architecture Biennale of Mexico City.
This distinction sparked a change in the vocation of the house, pushing the family to become an institution with a role towards culture and community. In 2016 Materia was requested to design a parking lot at the back of the property. A series of master plan studies and analysis made evident there was a bigger opportunity to generate value and expand the houses legacy and offer. Materia proposed a Cultural Center that took 6 years of planning, business modeling, finance, design, and construction. A series of travels and key visits to museums alike in the United States led to a deeper understanding of the programs and spaces that had to make up for the entirety of the project while establishing relevant connections with institutions alike.
The project is set behind a line of existing old trees supporting the aim of not being an object but rather a series of spaces intertwined by portals and thresholds. The columns and porticoes frame views to the gardens, pavilion, and house, and create a central courtyard enveloping a public space. The architectural language is composed and expressed by the structure, communicating its tectonic assembly, and creating surfaces to receive the light and projection of shadows in an ever-changing nature. All prefab concrete was made locally with regional aggregates. The stone is also native to the area. The work of reveals, joinery, and detail into the concrete acts as a reinterpretation of the ornament of the house while attesting its mounting and fabrication method.
The interior program includes a sunken art gallery, a restaurant and bookstore (Opening Fall 2022), workshop spaces, offices, catering galley spaces and an art cinema (2024). The art gallery serves as a transitional space between the gardens and the cultural center´s plaza. It also holds an exterior terrace on its roof. Carving this space into the ground helped preserve the gardens’ identity and open space around the house and pavilion while also providing a passive way to manage natural light and cooling for its interior.