Oyster shell museum will celebrate Mexican culture

Mexican firm FR-EE hopes this unusually shaped building will help preserve and promote local traditions
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Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE - image courtesy of FR-EE
Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE - image courtesy of FR-EE

Could this glorious, elliptical museum be built in the Mexican port city of Mazatlán? Those highly conceptual architects at Fernando Romero EnterprisE or FR-EE are proposing the oyster shell-like structure, which makes reference to the city’s nickname, the Pearl of the Pacific.

The design also resembles a UFO - a FR-EE signature - yet FR-EE aims to keep Museo Mazatlán relatively down-to-earth. The proposed museum would promote local culture “from a historical and anthropological viewpoint”, the firm says.

 

Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE
Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE

There would be an IMAX cinema in the building’s dome, as well as a restaurant and temporary gallery. The building’s outer edges would serve as a terrace, while staff training facilities and a documentation centre would be housed in the building’s uppermost reaches.

Despite its space-age look, FR-EE, which has offices in Mexico City and New York, says the design takes into account certain real-world considerations; the museum is set on an elevated base because this coastal region is prone to flooding.

 

Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE
Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE

Museo Mazatlán's underlying structure would be made from steel, and clad in a weather-resistant skin. Diamond-shaped holes in this outer layer would allow light into the museum's galleries. FR-EE, which was founded by ex-OMA architect Fernando Romero in 2000, says it is committed “to translating historic, social, economic and environmental contexts into contemporary urban destinations”. How well this sits with Mazatlán’s 500,000 citizens remains to be seen.


Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE
Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE

The city has already benefited from the regeneration of the old quarter. Its 19th century Teatro Ángela Peralta has been restored by Juan Jose Leon Loya, and plenty of small, good-quality museums continue to thrive here too. Might Museo Mazatlán fit its shell-like structure in among them?

 

Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE
Museo Mazatlán by FR-EE. Image courtesy of FR-EE

For more on FR-EE take a look at the practice’s page on the Phaidon Atlas, our peerless architectural resource. And check out our great architecture titles in the store. Meanwhile, fans of Mexican culture and cooking should check out our forthcoming title from the legendary contemporary Mexican chef Enrique Olvera


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