A sculptural building that has transformed the urban life in the area
The Soumaya Museum is part of a mixed-use urban development on the edge of the Polanco district, one of Mexico City's most exclusive areas. Located on a 1940's former industrial site, the Soumaya Museum is a key instigator towards the transformation of urban perception and urban life in the area. Its role as the area's pre-eminent cultural institution provides a dynamic mixture of program, activating and intensifying the surrounding public space while promoting the commercial activities in the neighborhood.
Architects and clients often design museum buildings singularly either for maximum functionality - acting as basic boxes or containers for art - or as iconic structures that represent a city at a particular historic moment.
The Soumaya Museum was designed as both: a sculptural building that is unique and contemporary, yet one able to house a collection of international paintings sculptures, and decorative objects dating from the fourteenth century to the present. From the outside, the building is an amorphous shape that is perceived differently from every angle, while reflecting the diversity of the collection on the inside. The building's distinctive façade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that facilitate its preservation and durability.
To create a new identity for the site, the proposal needed a strong urban and iconic presence. Thus the Soumaya Museum was conceived, as a rotating sculptural block with an organic and asymmetrical shape. Soumaya Museum acts as both a sculptural object and a cultural anchor in the city. Just as Soumaya Museum is initiating the areas transition, the museums design intention is to provide a morphological and typological bridge that defines a new paradigm in the timeline of Mexican and International architecture.
To create a shelter for collections, the opaque façade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that minimize exterior openings, protecting. The conglomeration of the individual modules reflects the diversity of the museums' collection; including the worlds' second largest collection of Rodin sculptures, a wing of Medieval and Renaissance Art, and a gallery of Impressionism.
This heterogeneous collection is housed in a continuous 6,000m2 exhibition space spread over five levels. The building also includes an array of public and private programs, including: a 350 seat auditorium, library, restaurant, gift-shop, a multi-purpose lounge, and administrative offices. The top floor is the largest space in the museum, with its roof is suspended from a cantilever that allows in natural daylight. Connecting the programs is a non-linear circulation zone, creating a zone of interaction that's connects the users along a common path as they meander through the building, culminating in a naturally lit multi-use gallery on the top floor.
The shell of the building is constructed with 28 unique curved steel columns of varying thicknesses, geometry, and shape - creating nonlinear circulation paths for the visitor. Stabilizing the structure is a system of seven rings that are located on each floor.
The Soumaya Museum project was developed with Gehry Technologies, ARUP, Colinas de Buen, Grupo PC Constructores, INPROS, SWECOMEX, Hubard & Bourlon, Garza Maldonado, SITCOM, SINERGIA, Lightteam, CYVSA, DYPRO, and KONE.