The Public Frame

This research-project puts forward the idea of the city as a Public Frame. The architecture of the public frame not only builds the prospect of highlighting communal life within the city, but it also regards openness and organization. Framing denotes intelligibility.
The word “frame” originally comes from “moving forward.” The frame finds in the historical development of Mexico City one of its most explicit paradigms, manifested in different scales and forms of representation, from the physical to the representational; “stages” of movement forward: the ritual plazas, the codex, the mural, the modern city and the tectonic frame, are partitions from Mexico City’s urban history as they all underline a different version of the same project. Mesoamerican thought and architecture were designed as a series of steps to surpass endlessly. “Moving” in Mesoamerican culture meant to cross “frames,” life stages materialized in the construction of their cities in diverse forms: from large ceremonial avenues literally designed in processional steps to fulfill the cosmic myths, to the architecture of the symbolic pyramids and the courtyard living quarters.
From Teotihuacan (classic) to Tenochtitlan (post classic, Renaissance period in the West), the cultural movement forward produced urban and economically sophisticated centers. Such progress was dramatically interrupted by the Spanish conquest, which would initiate a series of historical invasions and looting of the country’s cities and resources, a never ending colonization in different forms. This has become a condition that pervades Mexican culture, what we call the Culture of Contradiction: an irretrievable tension between the local and colonizer forces, between Mesoamerica and the West – the Spanish, and the Mexican with the American and French; contradiction constantly manifested in the urban environment.
From initial movement forward, to organizer of such contradiction, the frame has become both compliant and resistant of such inevitability. It celebrates and criticizes the city in its complex making, granting a potential ‘transparency’ and integration of its people.