The Montes Molina country house in Mérida, capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, was built in 1906. A century later it opened to the public as a house-museum. In 2015 the firm Materia – founded by Gustavo Carmona and Lisa Beltrán – raised an adjacent pavilion which would turn out the winner in the Biennial of Architecture held in Mexico City that same year, in the Culture section. In 2016, visitor numbers made it necessary to build a parking facility, and this led to the idea of a larger project: a cultural center.
Conceived as a series of pavilions interwoven by thresholds, the new construction stands on the property, behind a line of hundred-year-old trees that make a green facade. Its porticoes form walkways and wrap the exterior public spaces. The columns and the enclosures frame views of the house, the gardens, and the pavilion, visually unifying everything. The cultural center includes spaces for outdoor open-air events, a café-bookstore, and areas for services and kitchens in which to prepare for banquets. Two terraces, administrative offices, and a multipurpose hall are added on the top floor. The main art gallery is in the garden of the quinta, acting as a nexus between the preexisting elements – the house and the pavilion – and the new features. The project has a friendly scale and is a reinterpretation of the house and its ornaments, executed with prefabricated concrete elements thanks to which building time and economic costs were reduced.