New Tamayo Museum / Rojkind Arquitectos and BIG

Architects: Rojkind Arquitectos + BIG
Location: City,
Client: Patronato Tamayo
Constructed Area: 3,500 sqm
BIG Architects
Partners in Charge: Bjarke Ingels & Andreas Klok Pedersen
Project Team: Pauline Lavie, Maxime Enrico, Pål Arnulf Trodahl
Partner in Charge: Michel Rojkind
Project Team: Agustín Pereyra, Monica Orozco, Ma. Fernanda Gómez, Tere Levy, Isaac Smeke, Juan José Barrios, Roberto Gil Will, Beatriz Díaz, Joe Tarr
Structural Engineer: 
Romo y asociados
Landscape Design: 
Entorno taller de paisaje
Graphic Design: 
Ernesto Moncada
 Glessner Group – Germán Glessner

Set upon a steep hillside in Atizapan on the outskirts of Mexico’s largest metropolis will soon sit the New Tamayo Museum. The building will serve as a nucleus of education and culture – locally, regionally, and internationally – and continue to carry the name of the Oaxacan born artist Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991). The very strong and symbolic shape of the cross is a direct interpretation of the client’s preliminary program studies, defining an optimized organizational scheme for the Tamayo’s visitors and administrators.

The main concept of MUSEO TAMAYO EX-TENSION ATIZAPAN is an “Opened Box” that unfolds, opens and invites the visitors inside. Packaging, restoration and storage will serve as additional cultural spaces for visitors to understand and experience the stages that an art piece goes through before it is exhibited. The “open box” exhibits both the art work and the varied processes of a museum.

section 01

This is a very direct, strong and symbolic project, where the shape works effectively for both internal spaces and external. The cantilevered form enhances the best views above the interior art spaces, while shading the more social type spaces below. Exterior and interior spaces overlap to provide the best environment possible for each function, and optimal climatic performance.

Michel Rojkind, Rojkind Arquitectos

Understanding that contemporary art spaces pretend to be more important than the art they contain, our proposal arises from the scheme of requirements previously studied by our clients, assuring maximum functionality in each area while focusing on the development of art projects. By enhancing the program and understanding the topography, a balance between form, function and visual impact for this important space was created. Once the functional part was improved, we could give attention to details that make the space not only a culture enclosure, but also a building that understands its surroundings to distinguish itself and transform from a simple form to a powerful symbol, controversial, but ideal to lodge this new space.

Museo Tamayo Ex-tension Atizapan makes the best of the steep terrain allowing the galleries to shade the more social programs below, exterior and interior spaces overlap to provide the best environment possible for each function, and optimal climatic performance. The permeable brick shading façade eliminates or reduces the need for AC and combines good daylight with no sunshine and plenty of natural ventilation. Although it will be the museums symbolic provocation of its form and content that will attract its visitors, once there they will discover that its design, though modest, is intelligently and sustainably planned.

Bjarke Ingels, BIG Partner-in-Charge

structural diagrams

When you ask contemporary artists what kind of space they would prefer to exhibit their work in – they almost always describe old industrial warehouses or loft spaces. It is the kind of space where they have their studios, but most importantly the rough structures, with large spans and generous ceiling heights provides them with the maximum freedom of expression. On the other hand the museum director or the mayor might want an icon that to attract visitors. So museum design is often caught in a dilemma between the artists demand for functional simplicity and the museum’s (and architect’s) desire to create a landmark. The cantilevering cross is the literal materialization of the cruciform functional diagram – devoid of any artistic interpretation. Museo Tamayo Ex-tension Atizapan becomes the embodiment of pure function and pure symbol at the same time.

Cite: Saieh, Nico. "New Tamayo Museum / Rojkind Arquitectos and BIG" 20 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    Another Box on the Hill… this time with a symbolic message to extraterrestials to be seen through their space ship windows? Why???

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    …It goes to show that pairing up independently good designers doesn’t necesarilly adds up to an interesting single project! See: WTC joint proposal by Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, Charles Gwathmey… Yuck!

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Conceptually in plan and section I think this building looks great. And I like the cuts into the landscape below the cantilevers, but I suppose the interior is kind of boring. Facade study looks great too.

    cad I suppose it isn’t very original, but I think the link you sent, that building works really well. And I think this one could too. Simple shapes aren’t our enemies!

    And the symbol wasn’t for aliens Bo Lucky, it has nothing to do with religion if you read this at all.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bo Lucky this is far from a box on a hill. Look at the project before you criticize. The interiors are not boring because they are only showing the gallery spaces (which are meant to be dull because the art work is the focus in these rooms) in their interior views.

    A question for anyone familiar with Mexico City, would the roof terrace be incredibly hot with the climate there? I would really like some shade, but I suppose that is what the covered terrace below is for, and I guess it is actually a nice contrast of spaces.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    seriously? this is a joke. it’s a carbon copy of the Justice House that was done as a joke. It was on several arch blogs a few months ago. Except someone actually means to build this one. Brilliant.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Say whatever you want but there is no way to read these images as anything other than a giant inverted crucifix hovering above Mexico D.F. Why is really the only question. Given the architectural patrimony of Mexico and all of Latin America for that matter the mind boggles that this kitsch rubbish is commissioned and planned for construction. Not even the Catholic church is building in this fashion.

    No simple shapes are not our enemy, but stupid buildings really are.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I was always curious if there are any repercussions when architects/renderers use famous artworks in renderings? i.e. the Ron Mueck sculptures of the baby and man in the above rendering.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    it’s a shame that architects are now building objects everywhere in the world…. shame they don’t seem to have ideas about orientation… every facade seems to have the same orientation… i’d like to know about it…
    money is another issue… while you can build this gigantic structures i’d like to see more money invested in green areas… don’t you think about sun reflectance? yeiiii a big terrace for the pigeons! it’s a shame what star architects do nowadays… and I really mean it…

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Daniel Con,
    I am familiar with Mexico City and yes, for part of the year the roof terrace would be usable, Mexico City has a very high elevation and because of this somewhat of a Moderate climate. Summer would be to hot though. The bigger issue though is… would go use the roof terrace even if the temperature was great for it? There is nothing up there. Your view would be very limited because of the pollution. Other than that it is just a big piece of concrete. I personally would never be interested in spending time up there, I would much rather go and lay on the hill next to it. Maybe if it had some vegetation or something of interest the project would be better.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think this project do need a better concern of the local climate. Radiation, temperature, landscape vista, all should take into consideration

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is the most comprehensive information I’ve seen since glimpses of it elsewhere. It is fitting, powerful and well conceive. Formally and informally satisfying – it answers the brief with the purest form, and offers the meandering public spectacular spaces to gather. On top, the vantage points; below, the shelter under the mass. Few buildings offer these combination of experiences.
    The less convincing information is that of the unfolding box diagram. It betrays it as the “crucifix” form as I doubt mere mortals like me will ever see it so; unless you happen to be on Red Bull, an astronaut, or a “critic”. But it did helped to work out a solution … one that adds 50% more space to the main thrust of the building. If those two side won’t added, thereby becomes a thrusting-box half submerged into the topography, would it be more satisfying? The cross rooms addition makes economic sense and aptly benefit the supporting structure. Besides, the “crucifix” reference is symbolic and in human scale, it will feel as normal a building as any that is designed to house exhibits. A matter of moving from one box gallery to the next. Ok, you can sense or trace its alluding shape … so what, is that sinful?
    It is such a simple concept and easily achievable. In addition, the brick wall façade is a pleasant and impressive surprise. Because the architecture, the structure and cladding are very well considered, I will acknowledge this a highly recommended piece of architecture. Well done architects and the curator for choosing it. I hope this gets build.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      2 or 3 minutes perhaps a quick sketch on a napkin in a pseudo genius who never understood the spaces

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What’s up with the rendering of the wet baby staring at me. Disturbing, Bjarke.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    quizas hubiese sido interesante relacionar el trabajo y obra de rufino tamayo interpretado en un edificio… esto es mas de lo mismo… sabra dios que vision tengan los del patronato tamayo… por lo pronto, parece poco reflexiva sobre del legado de tamayo como artista…

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    @Enrique (who complains the museum does not reflect, architecturally speaking, the work of Rufino Tamayo, a Mexican painter that lends the name to the museum in question). The Tamayo Museum (the one in Chapultepec park in downtown Mexico City, and which this museum will replace) is NOT dedicated to the work of Tamayo, it houses contemporary art which has nothing to do with the work of the late painter.
    @DanielCon and Dustin: Summers are NOT hot in Mexico City, it’s the rainy season, the only time the terrace would be a place too hot to hang out in would be spring, if ever. Mexico City has a very mild climate, the temperature is hardly ever above 30 Celsius and the pollution, while being a serious issue, would hardly stop you from enjoying a pleasant view from that terrace.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I wonder if 4 colums of 20×20 cm section (8″x8″ aprox) is enough

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Simple smart building, The act of good critique is the ability to listen, read and understand obviously traits missing in this blog….pitty

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    simple form…people dont like it, complex form…they dont like it even more…it is a box in a shape of a crucifix. that is what it wants to be and thats simply the most functional form for a museum. the roof terrace ist there…and sowhat, if you want a shade, you can lay downd under the structure. I find it a bit dissapointing thou, because BIG always do something more than what is just needed and this project is the most down-to earth BIG project Ive seen. But I dont find anything wrong about this project, but, yet, anything innovative and…BIGish

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      all these comments are so disconnected from a deep understanding of the mexican culture… architecture is not object-forming… for example:
      “the roof terrace isnt there…and so what” _panza.
      do you have any idea of how space is perceived in Mexico? The roof terrace is all there! It is a direct connection to the huge open-public zocalos, to aztec urban design, to the collective perception of open space… it is a continuation of this. In this regard if BIG would not have associated with Rojkind it would have been a simplistic foreign landing-invasion; however Rojkind guided this design to truly emerge from a specific culture.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What about earth quakes, as i recall in 1985 a earthquake of magnitude 8.1 struck Mexico City, killing around 10,000 people. Well that surely doesn’t look like a earthquake resistant structure. Architecture is slowly moving away from the people.

  19. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Exhibition space is one of the smallest i’ve ever seen.. All of the service area is way too much in my opinion. Plus, Mexico, is one of the most religious countries in the world. This cross actually makes a reference to the catholic cross.. i mean, having this incredibly fancy museum on top of one of the most important hills of mexico city.. and shaping it like a cross? might as well make it a cathedral! Absolutely vulgar.. what happened guys? I used to really like your designs!

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