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Ensamble Studio present us with their Cervantes Theatre in Telcel, Mexico by naming it Dovela (Keystone). A possible interpretation of their naming it ‘keystone’ is perhaps the notion that the simplistic and grand metal structure that rises above ground level acts as an attraction to lead visitors inside the underground positioning of the theatre.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

According to Puerto Rico’s ‘Modo de Vida’ magazine, the studio have noted that “in design world we are always looking for the “wow” factor, a contrast element that impresses the viewers” – therefore, the search for the ‘wow’ effect could be considered as Ensamble studio’s keystone.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

Another central driving force in their design is their interpretation of contemporary culture and how it observes the transition and intertwining of previous generations of cultures, blending them into a modernized synthesis. Hence, Ensamble were in search for a sort of layering system through which to represent and express the qualities of Mexican culture.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

It therefore seems that the Cervantes Theatre is a conceptual up-side-down replication and adaptation of one of Mexico’s historic heritage sites – the Mayan and Aztec pyramids of Mesoamerica. Like the layered structure of a pyramid, the design driver behind the construction of the theatre stems from building on layers of history, heritage, and cultural significance. This makes the spatial character of the structure a sequence of several spaces. Indeed similarly to an ancient pyramid, the space displays a series of excavated terraces within the ground and it [the space] is aimed to reflect and refract the atmosphere above it, and could also be considered a resembling image of an excavation achieved through natural forces such as air, light, water, earth movement, etc. Natural sunlight penetrates through the metal grid structure and lures the attention towards the escalator area designated for access to the underground theatre.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

There, below ground level, is where the cultural identity of Mexican heritage takes place in the form of the above-mentioned excavated levels.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

They are linked to the over-ground structure with supports randomly arranged and in stark contrast with the strict linear grid of the Dovela structure. Pictured as Caryatids and Atlanteans by Ensamble studio themselves, the supports are positioned in motion as if captured during a performance.

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Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

This is the link to and the reflection of the performance areas beneath. The final of the sequence of spaces [the metal grid structure à the dancing supports à and the escalator area] is the negative space comprised of lobbies. Studio Ensamble have metaphorized the experience of that space as the culmination of the construction combined with the ‘function of a halted time’ (Ensamble Studio).

By Yoana Chepisheva

Courtesy of Ensamble Studio

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