Keys for approaching a model – Soumaya museum, Mexico City, Mexico

Soumaya Museum / FR-EE Fernando Romero Enterprise,© Adam Weisman

The elegant curves towering into a looped structure, functioning as an art museum, in Mexico city is a typical example of a structured parametric design. The process of idealization to realization of the design mainly involves surface analysis, pattern construction, pattern stretching and organization over the body.

To begin with the shape is derived from a rotated rhomboid plan which is scaled in each level in-turn molding the outer massing. Lofting this surface and preforming environmental analysis to understand the radiation and shadow analysis lead to the development of the unique shape of the structure. To achieve this, 28 curved steel columns of varying size and shapes were used as guiding frames to host the skin.

The structure in itself is a piece of art, embodied with hexagon shaped mirrored-steel panels of varying dimensions interlocking into each other. This variation follows a mathematical logic depending upon the angle of curvature of the body of the structure. The multiplication of this single hexagonal unit creates a form of textured shell for the structure.

The surface initially contained more than 16,000 unique panels, the high panel count increases complexity and cost of manufacturing. Hence through a
series of cluster analysis exercises, the unique panel counts where reduced until the panel to panel edge discrepancies where not discernible, thus creating a set of module panels as shown in the image below. The final design achieved was sustainable and efficient through the use of algorithms in parametric architecture.

Soumaya Museum / FR-EE Fernando Romero Enterprise,© Rafael Gamo

This simple yet elegant museum structure was thus conceived through a series of complex algorithmic functions following the parametric design principles of shape, mathematics and discretize.