Palacio de Lecumberri

A cultural center was projected for contest in the National General Archive building, former Palacio de Lecumberri. The building, originally a panopticon prison, represented the challenge to preserve the historical construction and at the same time to adjust its radial prison structure to a new function. We preserved the panopticon principle: restoring power to the social look; descending through the axis of the ensemble to its radial foundation. Thus we worked on the architectural project, the architecture of the landscape and museography.

The cultural center is conceived as an archive of archives: the project not only adds new ways of understanding the collection to the original program, it also provides resources for its sustainability. Museums, galleries, gardens and collections were reconceived as an extended archive both to create and attract new public as well as to activate its urban surrounding. The axis of the architectural project is an ambulatory with a double helical staircase interconnecting different cultural spaces with the gardens from the central void. The axis achieves a modern reinterpretation of the panopticon, inverting the ascent to the tower with the descent into a dark chamber, allowing the panoramic sight of the ensemble and the city on real time and through a periscope. The magic of this contained space lies in projecting the connection with the city to its center: the secluded space includes an urban exterior within. Also, there is innovation in the clear division between private and public.

Location: Col. Ampliación Penitenciaría, Mexico City
Program: National General Archive Cultural Center
Project: Rozana Montiel | Dellekamp Arquitectos | TOA – Taller de Operaciones Ambientales | Museográfica S.C.
Collaborators: Jachen Schleich | Carlos Zimbrón | Julien Salabelle | Gabriela Saldaña | Alin V. Wallach | Rubén Gutiérrez | Santiago Solana
Project Year: 2010
Acknowledgement: Second Place in the Competition