Culture within Mexico Architecture

Subject: Culture
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1122
Topics: Architecture, Design, Mexican Culture

Mexican authority has adopted various approaches with the objective of improving economic condition of the country. For example the need to expound the architectural industry has attracted foreign investors, ultimately creating employment opportunities in Mexico. Traditionally, the country has been dominated by two social classes including the extensive poor lower class and the rich ruling group. Architecture must be functional and meaningful. For architects to produce meaningful work, it is essential for them to understand the environment in which they are operating. This entails looking for the significance of the location and culture of the people in that place. This also involves understanding how the culture of the context they are operating entrenches itself within the work an architect is intending to undertake. This paper aims at discussing the way through which the culture of Mexican people is imbedded within Mexico architecture.

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Cultural Content

Monuments, murals, plazas, museums as well as ancient ruins within Mexico have a plaza referred to as the plaza of the three cultures. The plaza is as a symbol of relationship from one heritage to another. Since the occurrence of 1910 revolution in Mexico, Mexicans including poets, architects and artists have put efforts to define Mexicanness (Sabloff 31). Within Mexico, craftsmanship has been adopted to depict the passions, beliefs and customs of local people. The artistic expression in Mexico is attested by sculptures, architecture and painting especially in major cities. For example, in Casa de Los Once Patios, fine craftsmanship is displayed portraying the innovative of the local people.

Mexican Roots

Mexican roots also play a vital role in shaping the country’s architecture. Even though missionaries and Spanish conquistadors thought they were the first to enter the country, they were notified by Aztecs that Toltecs preceded them. The famous ruins of Teotihuacan located in great city were related to areas where the gods met. One of the major aspects related to Mexican archeological and architecture is the similarities between pyramids found in lowland Mayas and Teotihuacan with those of Egypt. Likewise, a similarity between orient styles with Mayan art. Ancient astronauts also influenced the establishment of Mesoamerica (Rowland and Howe 46).

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The ancient Egyptians who adapted the Mexican culture were associated with introduction of monumental buildings that had design adopted in Egypt for more than thirty centuries. However, the two structures are different. For instance, while the pyramids found in Mexico are truncated and were used as foundation of temples, the Egyptian ones played the role of tombs and come to a point.

The people and Land

Land is an important resource for an ordinary Mexican. Besides, being a mountainous country, Mexico experiences variety of climates. The country has three key climatic zones. These include hot country, temperate zones and cold country. Thus, in their architectural work, the architect puts the issue of climate changes and geography of the country into consideration. In addition, some villages and towns are designed in a typical manner (Kim 68). Municipal buildings, few small stores and schools are common in these areas. While some streets have small stones to make them rough, others are unpaved.

Emergence of Pre-Columbian Architectural

Original cities of early Mexico were established around 1000 BC in the regions of Mexico and Oaxaca. In addition, the Gulf Coast Lowlands influenced the development of cities. Olmecs resided in Mexico where they impacted on cultural trends of the area including transforming the small towns into large cities. The Olmecs embraced large labor force in order to satisfy their building requirements apart from accessing strong building materials (Coe 11). Even though the Olmec towns were not highly populated and lacked basic facilities to be treated as cities, they were considered as the pioneers of large urban centers in Mexico. For example, the Valley of Oaxaca was a precursor of Monte Alban, the largest city in ancient Mexico. Monte Alban, which had dense population, was established on three hilltops making it to be clearly visible and distinguishable.

Terraced hillsides that surrounded Monte Alban were characterized with houses and residential divisions with plaza inside them. The main plaza, which was large and open, was also located on one hill and had series of stones. Despite the crumble of Monte Alban in 18th century, other urban centers developed for instance the Teotihuaucan which had various apartment compounds and large number of pyramids. Southern cities in Maya also started to decline but Northern based cities such as Uxmal and Chichen Itza started to rise (Underhill 26). It is vital to note that the terminal classic which was adopted by Northern cities revealed similarity in architecture apart from settlement patterns and use of available space.

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Introduction of Spanish Colonial Architecture

Cultural integration between Mexican and Spaniards was significant in the shaping of Mexico architecture. The ancient Mexico ended as Spaniards started to introduce their new types of architecture and designs in Mexico. Basically, the early Spanish architecture has positive implication on the way Mexico cities and villages were constructed (Hannu and Bernhard 42). The four periods that were used to classify the architecture during colonial Spanish include the Churrigueresque, the Romanesque, the Plateresque and the Baroque. Notably, the Romanesque form was used to build churches, police posts and missions (Riggen 17).

Even though the Hispanic buildings avoided the use of ornamentations, they embraced massive and plain designs. It is worth noting that the padre guided the ornamentation of churches as well as planning of most building. This was based on the fact that the foreigners from Spain did not have adequate architecture skills and designed local buildings as laymen. As a result, native craftsmen adopted colonial architecture which was applied during Indian building in Mexico approximately 3,000 years ago (Oster 57). The modifications applied on Spanish architecture by Indian craftsmen included changing textures, adjusting the proportion of materials used and using different materials.

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As noted in the paper, Mexico architecture was greatly influenced by culture. Prior to starting their assignments, architects should take their time to understand the culture of the communities around them. The cultural content of Mexico deals with the extent to which Mexicans define their heritage using sculptures, paintings and architecture. Mexican roots have also influenced the way the country embraces the current architecture. For instance it has been established that there exist a relationship between architectural work of Egyptians and Mexico. Based on Mexico’s mountainous appearance and variety of climates, it is prudent for the architect in the country to consider such issues before undertaking their work. Cultural integration is also a factor that played vital role of influencing the architecture and designs adopted by Mexicans families. Through the establishment of foreign architecture by Spaniards, the country has now remained a global focus in reference to building designs.

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  1. Coe, D. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994.Print.
  2. Hannu J and Bernhard T. Architecture-driven modelling methodologies. In: Proceedings of the 2011 conference on Information Modelling and Knowledge Bases XXII, 2011.Print.
  3. Kim, U. Culture, science and indigenous psychologies: An integrated analysis. In D. Matsumoto (Ed.), Handbook of culture and psychology. Oxford: OUP, 2001. Print.
  4. Oster, P. The Mexicans: A Personal Portrait of a People. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.Print.
  5. Riggen A. Luis Barragan: Mexico’s Modem Master, 1902-1988. New York: Monacelli, 1996.Print.
  6. Rowland, D and Howe, T. Vitruvius. Ten Books on Architecture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.
  7. Sabloff, A .The Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989 .Print.
  8. Underhill, W.  Humboldt, Worldview, and Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.Print.
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