Architecture update: Letter from Mexico
Mexico is building culture into its agenda like never before. Not only have major arts institutions like the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Amparo Museum begun acquiring new works this year, after a purchasing freeze during the global downturn, but plans for new museums and galleries are being released in a steady stream. Mexico has even dedicated its pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale to the subject, flaunting no fewer than 13 recent projects by home-grown practices.
One such project is the Amparo Museum. Dedicated to prehispanic, colonial and modern art, the gallery is currently undergoing a major renovation and expansion in the hands of Enrique Norten and his practice Ten Arquitectos. 'My clients in the US are being pretty conservative at the moment, but those in Mexico are much more brave,' says Norten, who has offices in both countries. 'People are really thinking on a big scale.'
Putting his experience working on the plagued Guggenheim Guadalajara behind him (the project was ultimately aborted in 2009), Norten has recently completed the first $17m phase of another museum - the city-regenerating Musevi in Villahermosa, Tabasco.
International big guns are also being drafted in to work on ambitious projects in Mexico. British architect David Chipperfield is currently building a new home for the Jumex Collection in Mexico City - within spitting distance of the Soumaya Museum, completed by Fernando Romero in 2011. And Swiss practice Herzog & de Meuron has drawn up plans for a new Barranca Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Guadalajara.
But it's not just art galleries and museums that are soaking up the investment. The National Council for Culture and the Arts has enlisted Rojkind Arquitectos for a major expansion of the Cineteca Nacional del Siglo XXI, while Arquitectura 911 is currently working on a new building for the Estudios Churubusco. Here we round up the highlights of Mexico's culture-building programme.