Mexican Architecture is incredibly varied, and each style conveys a unique tale about the country’s history. The country has witnessed the early stages of architectural dwellings, which influenced the culture of Mexico. Let us see the Pre-Hispanic and Colonial periods, where structures were built out of minimum materials with intricate designs.
During the Early establishment (2500 B.C. – 300 A.D.), the Maya appeared to have constructed Lakam Ha around 100 B.C., primarily as a farmers’ community favoured by the numerous springs and streams nearby. The population of Lakam Ha increased throughout the Early Classic period (200–600) as it developed into a full-fledged metropolis, and it was appointed the capital of the B’akaal (bone) area in Chiapas and Tabasco during the Late Classic period (600–900).
The constructions have been unearthed, which date back to roughly the year 600. The city grew to its largest size and population during the Tollan period. Tollan-urban Xicocotitlan’s area was estimated to be between 5 and 16 km2 at the time, with a population of between 16,000 and 55,000 people, according to several authors.
Chichen Itza’s structures have a considerable number of architectural and iconographic characteristics that have been termed “Mexicanized” by certain scholars. Classic Maya architecture shows the influence of central Mexican cultures blended with the Puuc style of the upper peninsula. The presence of these components from Mexican Plateau cultures has recently been speculated to be the result of a huge migration to the Mayan city, or the conquest of the Mayan city by Toltec people.
With the foundation of Spanish authority in Mexico, the first churches and monasteries were built using classical architectural principles and Spanish mudejarismo (refers to a type of ornamentation and decoration) requirements. One of the strategies adopted by friars of the mendicant orders in the 16th century to convert the enormous number of indigenous non-Catholics in New Spain was to organise local indigenous communities around monastic sites. These were designed to look like fortresses, although they were built in the style of European convents, with new characteristics like open chapels and atriums with a stone cross in the centre; they were distinguished by various ornamental aspects.
During most of the colonial period, Baroque art and architecture reigned supreme. Pope Gregory XIII founded the Academy of Saint Luke in 1577, intending to move away from Renaissance style. Its goal was to produce iconography to convey and reinforce Church doctrine by using art and sculpture in and on churches. The Patio of the Kings in the monastery of El Escorial is one of the first Baroque constructions in Spain.
From the late 16th to late 18th century, Spanish Baroque was transported to Mexico, where it evolved its variants. The majority of Baroque art and architecture was used in churches. One reason for this was that the church served as the community’s focal point in practically all cities, towns, and villages, with streets radiating outward in a regular layout. Mexican Baroque churches are more introverted than their European equivalents, with the main altar taking centre stage. The goal was to practise introspection and meditation. The ornate design was intended to draw attention to the major concepts.
In the later colonial period, columns and pilasters, particularly the section of the column between the capital and the base, can be classified into six kinds, including Salomonic (helical column) and estipite (an inverted truncated pyramid), which were key elements of Mexican Baroque design. The Baroque broke into several sub-styles and approaches as it flourished in Mexico.
The first half of the nineteenth century in Mexico saw little change in townscapes until the French occupation during the Second Mexican Empire in the mid-1860s. Mexico was introduced to a new set of urban design ideas by Emperor Maximilian I. President Diaz aimed for a modern, sophisticated Mexico City. New building designs were possible by the use of cast iron technology from Europe and the United States. Imports of Italian marble, European granite, bronzes, and stained glass are now possible.
The Neo-Gothic designs were applied to early twentieth-century large public buildings. The Central Post Office and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, both created by Italian architect Adamo Boari, are two of the best examples. The neo-Indigenist architecture was an important aspect of the Porfirian regime’s expression of national identity in the nineteenth century. The portrayal of the locals in Mexican architecture was mostly accomplished through pre-Hispanic antiquity-inspired themes and decorative motifs. These representations were crucial in the creation of a shared legacy that could bring the country together.
Luis Zalazar passionately urged architects to build a national style of architecture based on the study of pre-Hispanic ruins around the turn of the twentieth century. His works influenced the development of nationalistic inclinations in Mexican architecture in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Following the Mexican Revolution, successive Mexican regimes used the country’s pre-Hispanic history to represent it.
As the building of truly Mexican architecture became an urgent concern during the twentieth century, later architects also sought inspiration from colonial and regional architecture.
The Architecture of the 21st Century and Beyond…
While there are some notable connections between the development of modern architecture in Mexico and that of its North American and European equivalents, its trajectory shows numerous distinct qualities that challenged established notions of modern architecture. During the post-Revolutionary period, the idealisation of the indigenous and traditional represented attempts to reach back into the past and reclaim what had been lost in a rush toward modernisation.
In the twenty-first century, Mexican society is experiencing a serious identity crisis, which is reflected in the creation of new buildings and the architectural values of people who develop them. Another trend is the recycling of buildings, which involves examining ancient industrial, colonial, or modern structures for indefinite purposes such as housing, art and cultural spaces, or government or corporate offices.
This ideology aims to cut expenses and recover former forms. Intelligent and corporate buildings are a clear example of Mexico’s avant-garde architecture; they are part of large urban projects in specific sectors or large avenues of Mexican cities. They are characterised by machine-controlled operating systems such as air conditioning, lighting, security systems, and so on.
Eco-skyscrapers, which seek to reduce energy demand and use industrial ecotecnias in construction, as well as recover green spaces and take advantage of solar energy, are already a reality in some Mexican cities. Mexican eco-architecture begins with vernacularism and manifests itself with technological advances of the twenty-first century of international architecture. For a worry about climate change on the earth, this architectural trend is gaining increasing traction in the country’s architecture schools.
- Wikipedia Contributors (2020). Architecture of Mexico. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Mexico.
- HiSoUR – Hi So You Are. (2018). Architecture of Mexico. [online] Available at: https://www.hisour.com/architecture-of-mexico-31077/