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Studio faculty member receives BSA Design Award

Studio faculty member Roberto de Oliveira Castro is part of the design team that recently won the 2014 BSA Design Award (Unbuilt Category) for the Museo Maya de América, which will be built in Guatemala. de Oliveira Castro is the principal in charge for the project at the Boston firm over,under the Boston firm over,under. The firm teamed with Swiss firm Harry Gugger Studio to design Central America’s largest museum of Mayan history and culture for a site in Guatemala City.

The Fundación Museo Maya de América unveiled the design of the museum earlier this year. The president of the organization, Fernando Paiz notes that their goal is to create “a museum that celebrates Maya culture and carefully explains it.”

This ambitious project will more than 600,000 square feet and will be sited at a prominent location at the northern edge of the Aurora Park in Guatamala City. The design for the museum was inspired by the language of traditional Maya temple architecture but does not seek to replicate that language; rather it seeks to become a contemporary expression of Maya architectural elements.

The result is a large abstract form with a monolithic box perched upon blocks of stone. The building is designed for maximum public interaction and the ground floor is almost entirely open space. Galleries are connected to lower levels by stairs through the central courtyard and reside within the large floating box.

“The central court evokes the cenote, a type of natural sinkhole characteristic of the Yucatan and held sacred by the Maya,” noted de Oliveira Castro. “Open to the sky and lushly planted, the eight-story cenote functions as the heart of the museum, its displays, and its activities.”

Taking advantage of the temperate climate of the city, the design employs natural ventilation throughout the museum although there are a small number of spaces that require a greater level of climate control. There is a landscape roof that acts as public space with gardens, outdoor galleries and viewing terraces. The roof will also be used to collect rainwater and filter it through the cenote-much like the traditional Maya practices of channeling water.

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(All images courtesy Harry Gugger Studio and over,under)