Museum of Baroque Art and Culture by Toyo Ito in Mexico

Japanese architect Toyo Ito undertook the design of the Museo Internacional del Barroco (MIB) seven kilometers from the city of Puebla, in Mexico. This museum is meant to expose Baroque art in all its glory, from painting and sculpture to theater and music.

The building has a ground floor, and upper floor and a mezzanine level.  At ground level, you would find permanent and temporary exhibition spaces as well as an auditorium, an information center and a museum shop. On the first floor, you can gain more knowledge by entering the research and education rooms and the International Baroque Saloon or you could just enjoy a baroque inspired meal at the restaurant and terrace.

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What are the two main driving principles of this project?

Since the conception of this project, the architect’s goal was to emphasize the relationship between nature and humans. In other words, the building needed to emerge from the earth as if smoothly growing out of it.

In addition to this, the building needed to embody aspects of the Baroque movement, which revolves around breaking away from the strict set of rules imposed by the previous Renaissance movement.

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How are these two principles infused into the architecture of the building?

In order to do implement these two conceptual ideas, the architects at Toyo Ito & Associates decided to step away from the rigidity of flat concrete surfaces and concentrate on the fluidity of curved concrete slabs. The museum is entirely built with fluted white concrete walls with a bush-hammered finish that provide a playful language with nature.

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Also, it was essential to introduce the notion of intense light, which is why different spaces are illuminated by circular skylights that make it seem as if light is falling from the sky and as if a dialogue between man and nature is happening.

Moreover, the building needed to be environmental friendly: it was designed in a way that it harvests and treats rainwater and sewage to feed the huge pond.

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Last but not least, the organization of the museum respected the guiding principles. All terraces are overlooking the greenery, giving way to more connection with the existing nature. All galleries are positioned around the water-filled courtyard, creating a constant interchange between the inside and the outside. Finally, the main atrium of the museum is occupied by an imposing curving staircase activated by large benches designed by Kazuko Fujie Atelier.

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Personally, I believe this museum of Baroque Art and Culture is simply a masterpiece. From the outside, it looks like a playful fluid structure that is lightly and subtly emerging from the ground, while from the inside it offers a multitude of spaces that are filled with natural lighting and constant reminders of what is outside.

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