Wrapped in a skin of mirrored hexagons and featuring a fluid form and interiors, Museo Soumaya is an architectural icon designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero.
A glistening rhomboid frozen in time mid-twirl; undulating motion in the midst of stillness, brought to life by light dancing off the mirrored-steel façade – Museo Soumaya is like a beacon in the heart of Plaza Carso, Mexico City.
Dreamt of by one of the world’s wealthiest men, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú, the non-profit museum has brought about conflicting reviews.
For the design, Slim turned to his son-in-law, architect Fernando Romero, the founder and director of fr.ee, a global architecture and industrial design firm. Known for his fluid forms, Romero envisioned this unconventional sculptural shape rising to 150 feet in height.
Named after Slim’s late wife Soumaya Domit Gemayel, the museum houses an art collection of over 60,000 works on display for public appreciation.
The building – a rotated rhomboid – is supported by 28 curved steel columns of different diameters and shapes and clad in a honeycomb of hexagonal mirrored-steel tiles. Completed in 2011, the structure spans 16,000 square meters and consists of six gallery floors.
The honeycomb façade
The building’s skeleton consists of 28 curved steel columns, of varying widths around the perimeter and attached to a concrete podium. Adding support is a seven-ring structural system that creates cantilevers on multiple sides. The seven horizontal beams, one on each floor level, work to bind the columns together and adds stability to the flowing six-level promenade of the exhibition, presentation, and communal gathering spaces.
Wrapped around this structure is the mesmerizing façade. What’s utterly fascinating is the sheer number of mirror-finish hexagons – over 16,000 – that appear to float, millimeters apart from each other, on the surface of the asymmetrical building. In reality, the hexagonal elements of the honeycomb façade are attached, each at the center, to a secondary structure and work to conceal the supporting skeleton.
Referencing the traditional colonial, ceramic-tiled facades of Mexico City, the hexagonal elements change the appearance of the building depending on the weather and time of day. The fluid shape is perceived differently from different positions around the exterior; it’s an element of the design meant to reflect the collection the museum houses.
Source: El Universal