Mexico’s Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art recently organised an architectural competition to design a new building at Atizapán, Mexico, which would not only store the many works of art not currently on show, but also include ample exhibition space of its own.

Mexican architect Michel Rojkind, whose firm has been rated among the top 10 design vanguard firms in the world, teamed up with Danish colleagues Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Architects and won the competition with a design for a cantilevered building in the shape of a cross.

Some critics read religious symbolism into the building’s shape, but Rojkind disagrees: “It wasn’t a perfect cross, but it was almost that, and we streamlined it,” he says. “The shape was logically derived from the way the museum would operate.”

An “open box” for more transparency

The Dano-Mexican partnership presented its design to the organisers not as a Christian cross, but as the cruciform of an opened-out cubic box. “I believe that this idea of a box opening up convinced them to give us the project,” says Rojkind. “The building’s initial purpose was to store different works of art on a rotational basis, but then the idea of being more transparent gained currency and was incorporated into the plans. We call it the ‘open box’ because it will be the first museum in Mexico where the general public can visit the storage space.”

Another factor speaking in favour of Rojkind and BIG’s design was the sustainability features of their concept. “The building intervenes as little as possible with the landscape,” says Rojkind. “Only two parts of the cross are touching the ground, the other two are cantilevered. The terrace is a water-collecting space, which is important in this arid area. The façade is perforated to avoid a build-up of heat inside the building. This natural ventilation creates a very comfortable environment and reduces the amount of mechanical equipment needed for air conditioning.”

The building uses hybrid lighting with one half electric and one half natural light. “The only place where you have exposed glass is underneath the cross,” says Rojkind. “The 300ft cantilevers shade everything below them, so you never get the sun hitting the glass side.”

A winning presentation with HP printing

The Tamayo Museum design was presented spectacularly for the competition by Rojkind’s office, which is known for creating clear and attractive material of its plans. “We are aggressive in pushing the limits of architecture but also those of graphic design and project presentation,” says Rojkind. “We are very visually driven, creating and printing renderings and competition posters and other images that will motivate the clients.”

In the early stages of every project, the office presents a book of colourful renderings and plans to the clients. “Small details make up the big thing,” says Rojkind. “The clients realise that if you’re concerned about the detail of a book, you’re going to be concerned about the detail of the building you build.”

For the Tamayo Museum competition, the firm used its HP Designjet T1100 printer with HP Vivera inks to print presentation material in-house. “The clients congratulated us not only on the project, but also on the way it was presented,” says Rojkind. “They were blown away by the quality of the renderings. We printed colourful placards with supports at the back in the shape of the building and books which were contained in boxes opening up to form the cross shape.”

Printing solutions for everyone involved in the design

The office has been using the HP Designjet T1100 printer for over two years and recently installed the new HP Designjet T1120 SD-MFP multi-function printer. “The HP printers are very practical solutions, not only for architects, but also for photographers, graphic designers, industrial designers – everybody who’s involved in our projects,” says Rojkind. “The industrial designer prints a 1:1-scale chair for a restaurant we are doing, then the graphic designer prints a booklet, and we print a rendering.”

Rojkind adds: “We also do tests of image durability, which is important as clients may have the renderings up on the wall for a long time. I have some images in my office that I printed on the HP Designjet T1100 printer two years ago, and the colours are still perfect.”

Extended features for better efficiency and control

Rojkind wishes his office had already had its new HP Designjet T1120 SD-MFP multi-function printer when the Tamayo Museum project was being developed. “The new machine includes a scanner, which would have made things easier if we had had it at the time,” he says. “In the past, I would sketch something and then the team would redo it on the computer. Now they just scan and convert it.”

Rojkind’s firm also benefits from the ability to communicate with HP printers though the Internet using HP Web Jetadmin software. “I can monitor everything that is being printed,” he says, “from which computer a file was sent, who printed it, and at what time. If I’m travelling abroad to do lectures, I can still keep track of the printing processes in the office.”

Recovering from the crisis with a new focus

The architect sees big changes coming up in the industry and believes that the worldwide economic downturn is likely to bring about positive developments. “A lot of people who were investing in real estate are not doing so anymore,” he says. “We’re going through a tough phase, but I think it will bring us back to reality. Buildings that are simply beautiful will no longer be built. We’re going back to basics, asking ourselves: ‘Is the building doing something socially, for the community? Is it sustainable?’ If these aspects are all tied in, then the projects will go ahead.”