In light of the railroad boom in Mexico during the first decades of the century, the city of Aguascalientes possessed the most complete and sophisticated workshop complex in the nation. Unexpectedly, by the 1990's the decadence would swiftly arrive causing these to close inopportunely.
After two decades of neglect and accumulated pollution, a visionary initiative by the state government promoted converting the industrial complex into an arts and culture district complemented by a variety of other uses such as corporate offices, sports facilities and even a hospital complex.
After a decade of planning and urbanization, restoration on ships set to receive museum, educational and recreational activity began. Of the last ones so far operated is the largest of the whole macrosystem - covering more than thirteen thousand square meters. It was decided to generate a convention center at a regional scale that would house multipurpose rooms and generous spaces for large format exhibitions. The space was named Foro Trece to hint at is incorporation into the already well known Tres Centurias Complex.
Beyond narrating the quantitative possibilities that were assigned to it programmatically, the value of the intervention is in the rigorous rescue of the site. The architectural ideas flowed around respect for the building, and the honesty and expressiveness of the general as well as particular adaptations. The execution of these ideas remind us at every point during the walkthrough that this is a recycled space which belonged to a specific era, use and place.
As a refined example of the industrial architecture of the mid-twentieth century, where serial production is favored through a refined layout - the ship is resolved into a quadrangular plant of two hundred and eleven by sixty-three meters. This placed its short headwaters towards the north and south which provided a system of sawtooth style roofs in a transversal manner. This system favors the entry of natural light in an indirect zenith way by means of large glazing integrated into the trusses.
The structure combines concrete supports around the perimeter attached to extruded industrial brick dividing walls. These modularly organize a series of steel columns inside the space. All this supports the composite trusses responsible for supporting the light cover, the facilities and the cranes from its original use.
The rescue consisted of keeping all the architectural pieces and industrial equipment intactly in their place in order to adapt the new organizing elements of the space. In order to accomplish this the decision was made to draw a linear scheme in which a large longitudinal corridor in the center would connect sixteen multipurpose rooms. Ten of the smallest rooms arranged in the east wing and the six largest in the west - grouped in the south occupying fifty percent of the surface. The remaining space of the nave contemplates a central hall that receives visitors from both the east and west faces while using the north wing (the remaining fifty percent of usable space) as a mega exhibition hall with an infinite use of possible uses.
In order to avoid interfering with the original morphology of the exterior and simultaneously tackling the need to provide architectural elements that would give the object a new character - contemporary and distinctive but discreet and mimetic - the decision was made to add each of the nave's head (north and south) an apparent concrete mask which would follow the pattern of the masonry frames of the original facade that managed to emphasize without touching pre-existing architecture. Several of the contemporary services, machinery and engineering rooms were located in discreet newly created rooms, adjacent to the west side on a sufficiently discreet scale.
To conclude, it is necessary to describe that with an almost anthropological sensitivity, the design strategies implemented in Foro Trece claim the past memories of the factory and trade spanning several generations from Aguascalientes. They also remind us with a poetic subtlety, from its idea to its execution, that now more than ever, building (and in general all design objects) must be designed with today in mind - as well as for a tomorrow that could be significantly different.