This is lovely Culiacán Rosales, hometown of the Sinaloa Cartel and cradle of Mexican narquitectura.

But nothing encapsulates the taste for flare and the constant nearness to death that are distinguishing features of the local drug-trade culture like the town's funerary architecture:

This is the tomb of the famous slain
banda singer, Valentín "El Gallo" Elizalde


torre reforma

Why do we despise certain buildings? Because they are poorly designed? Obnoxiously scaled? Due to their violent disregard for their surroundings? Maybe just because they've displaced older, possibly more valuable or endearing buildings for the sake of progress (oh the tired and lame excuse)? What about all of the above?

Not content with shutting down the most spectacular, most massive and glitziest gay club in Mexico City (five years ago my bf and I kissed for the very first time in the earlier location of the very same club in the Colonia Roma) the realtors and developers behind the Torre Reforma have stripped the city of another little piece of history and spirit.

And all for what? Well, to build the tallest building (oh the even more tired and lame excuse) in (drumroll)... Latin America! Woo-f*ckin'-hoo.

Ta-da! The Torre Reforma, to be completed in 2011

If you think the hulky horror is ugly on top, wait till you see the bottom!

Cataloged building under the Torre Reforma. The XIXth-century casona was the former home of the Living Reforma gay club.

This is historic preservation, Mexico City style.

Oh, and for all of those architects out there cheering this feat of humbug modernity, just so you know, they didn't only tear down the parking lot nextdoor to build the thing. They also threw in a little 1940's Luis Barragán apartment building, just for the fun of it.

Luis Barragán, Rio Elba 56 apartment building, now demolished. Photo by thom's'


luz del mundo

International Sanctuary of the Light of the World Church, Guadalajara, Mexico

Don't worry. You haven't typed "blogpsot" instead of "blogspot".

Alternative religiousness can be a scary. Think Waco or Heaven's Gate. Even when cult suicide isn't involved, modern sects can still be seriously unsettling. And fun to watch.

Temple in Honduras

As I've said before, the early nineties were crazy times for Mexico, with economic and political upheavals having a serious resonance in popular religiousness, with its range of urban and architectural imprints.

Temple in Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico

We have our own corporate mega-sect to thank for giving us one of the country's wackiest home-grown architectural styles, ever. The Iglesia de Dios, Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad, Jesús La Luz del Mundo (Church of God, Column and Pillar of Truth, Jesus the Light of the World, or just Light of the World, for short) could be a Mexican equivalent of Scientology.

Temple in León, Guanajuato, Mexico

Founded in 1926 by a self-proclaimed apostle of Christ from Monterrey, Aarón Joaquín González, the cult has reportedly grown to have over 1.5 million followers in Mexico and another 3 or 4 million in the rest of Latin America and other countries.

Another shot of the International Sanctuary

Their main temple, the International Sanctuary in the Hermosa Provincia (Fair Province) neighborhood of Guadalajara (Mexico's second-largest city) seats 12,000 people, occupies 15,500 sqm, and has an 88m-high tower — and it's one of the more sober examples.

The sect is extremely controversial. Not only is it constantly being attacked by the zealous Mexican Catholic Church, but other grave accusations have also been made against it for all sorts of reasons: fraud, shady political activities and even narco-money laundering. Judging by the organization's taste in architecture, it makes perfect sense.

Photos found at the Luz del Mundo Skycrapercity thread. For more, visit the mañanarama tumblr


arquitectura de la revolución (1)

Francisco Borbolla and Luis Lelo de Larrea, Monumento a la Raza, Mexico City, 1940

Mexicanista scholars love to talk and write about the Arquitectura de la Revolución, the nationalist-cum-statist architectural production spawned by the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921), which supposedly thrived at least until the late sixties.

But what exactly is this “Architecture of the Revolution” anyway? Generally speaking, I would say this notion applies to:

1– A set of both abstract incursions (identitarian pursuits, speculative representations of the National, a reconciliation between localism and universalism, tradition and modernity, etc.) and concrete efforts (the incorporation of technical innovation, new architectural typologies, formal and stylistic clashes, etc.) that
defined the limits of architectural practice in Mexico during this period.

2– The consolidation of a “revolutionary” architectural agenda and of a State monopoly over the true, legitimate Architecture of the Revolution.


le corbusier in mexico

A couple of months ago I had a little spell of déjà vu at my local Barcelona bookstore. I was looking through the architecture novelties section, bored and disillusioned, till I spotted the following disturbing cover:

The kitschy artwork and the melodramatic title seemed terribly familiar. In the spirit of the classical Mexican monografía — a moralistic, sentimental graphic cultural artifact that I will further analyze in a future post — this biographical Corbu comic written by Fernando Gay and illustrated by María I. Camberos was originally printed in Mexico City, by Editorial Novaro, in 1966.

An obscure — possibly ersatz — publishing house, Editorial Massilia (the name of the ship on board of which Le Corbusier crossed the Atlantic in his first trip to the Americas, in 1929), has a facsimile edition circulating all over Spain, apparently.

advanced mexican modern technology

The latest in Advanced Modern Technology as envisioned by Mexican B-Movies in the 1980s.

El Secuestro de Lola (Lola la Trailera 2), 1985


modern mexico

Image results for "Mexico" and "Modern" in Life magazine

The town of New Guerrero being constructed, showing the modern, ranch style houses, 1953

Double decker bus on modern highway from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, 1958

A modern Mayan youth, 1947

Modern food market named `Mercado de La Merced', 1958

Modern store in Mexico City, 1958

Excellent picture of the "New Look" of the city showing modern office buildings, 1958

Modern sculpture at the Mexican Art Exhibit, Paris, 1952

Seen from top of modern building whose roof is playground for children, 1958

Polynesian restaurant "Mauna Loa" featuring pink flamingoes in sunken pit, 1958

Central Airport building where musicians entertain travelers, 1958