Like many medium-sized cities around the world, Villahermosa, Mexico, could benefit from a shiny new museum to draw tourists and provide public space for its residents. But architect Enrique Norten and his firm TEN Arquitectos have much bigger plans than that. They've developed a cultural center that's part of an ambitious rethinking of Villahermosa's most major street.
The Museo Elevado de Villahermosa, or Musevi for short, is a new cultural center in Villahermosa that's part of Norten's fresh master plan. The structure sits on (and over) the busy Paseo Tabasco, which will undergo a larger transformation to make the street a green, mixed-use, multi-modal thoroughfare for bikes and pedestrians.
The site is unique in that it links two parks, each with their own lakes, which had previously been divided by the busy street. Like an overpass for a freeway, the white, cantilevered structure uses a series of ramps and skyways to provide pedestrians access to the parks, while containing a cultural experience within. Art exhibitions will be mounted in the central corridor, which doubles as a vista point for people crossing from one side of the park to another. Along the lake on one side is an amphitheater for outdoor performances, with landscape architecture for the entire project by W Architecture.
The exterior is clad in perforated metal patterns, which, as the video shows, can be illuminated with lights and film projections, allowing the structure to beam out various colors and patterns at night. With the structure's long, narrow spine appearing to walk on its support-beam "legs" and the diagonal cladding forming a kind of mouth, some would say it looks a bit like an alligator.
Musevi is the first phase of a three-pronged plan for the Paseo Tabasco, which runs east to west across the entire city. The hope is that infrastructure and environmental improvements will help pave the way for new development and create vital public space for interaction between residents. Future phases include streetscape improvements, reinvented parks, and renewed access to the waterfront — all of which Norten hopes will turn the Paseo Tabasco into a world-class, pedestrian-friendly experience.
[Photos by Luis Gordoa]