Foro Boca

by | 20. Dec 2017

Concrete | Cultural | Project
a giant stone volume cantilevers out from its main volume

Foro Boca by Rojkind Arquitectos. Image © Jaime Navarro

On a sunny December day, some of the world’s leading architects have gathered in remote Boca del Rio in the coastal Mexican state of Veracruz, to celebrate the opening of the region’s newest cultural center. Alongside Michael Rojkind, the building’s architect, namesake of its design firm, and one of Mexico’s leading contemporary architects, Bjarke Ingels has joined the festivities, perhaps alluding to the building’s architectural significance.

a stone forecourt with two large volumes. The second is cantilevering over a glass facade.

Foro Boca’s cantilever hangs delicately over its public plaza. Image © Jaime Navarro

A formidable concrete mountain, Foro Boca is as jagged as the coastline it emulates. Formed of several immense textured concrete volumes—some cantilevered delicately above a new public plaza—Foro Boca recalls iconic Brutalist cultural centres in cities like London, where The National Theatre redefined the staid architecture of its programmatic category. With its soaring, wood-patterned poured concrete facades and dark, moody interiors, Foro Boca is one of the first Brutalist buildings to be built anywhere in the world in the last several decades.

the building is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the gulf of mexico sea

Foro Boca with the Gulf of Mexico in the background. Image © Jaime Navarro

Foro Boca, or “Forum at the Mouth,” is located where the Jamapa River meets the Gulf of Mexico, sited between one of Boca del Rio’s busiest motorways and its burgeoning waterfront. It is the first permanent home of the four-year-old Boca del Rio Philharmonic Orchestra, an organization known for its musical excellence and its robust philanthropic program, which provides choral and orchestral after school education for low-income children in the city. Positioned strategically within walking distance of the city’s most popular restaurant corridor while creating a new public agora for locals and visitors alike, Foro Boca is poised to become a cultural attraction in the region.

the sun is shining on one of the large angular facade elements

Foro Boca is a part of an extensive master plan for the district. Image © Jaime Navarro

Marking the completion of a major phase of a master plan for the district, the opening of Foro Boca brings to life a vibrant vision for an urban area currently transitioning from dereliction to tourist destination. “Foro Boca’s location is intended to articulate the dynamics of the central part of the city with the coastal avenue,” write the architects, “and has the goal of functioning as an urban detonator capable of inciting modernity in the area.”

black and white drawing of two facades

Foro Boca in elevation. Image © Rojkind Arqitectos

two black and white sections cutting through the concert hall

Foro Boca in section. Image © Rojkind Arqitectos

a black and white plan drawing

Foro Boca in plan. Image © Rojkind Arqitectos

A striking architectural gesture, Foro Boca is comprised of a series of asymmetrical blocks, each containing different elements of the centre’s cultural offerings. Crucially, Foro Boca is designed to provide much needed flexible education and performance space for the Boca del Rio Philharmonic, including a nearly 1000-seat state-of-the-art auditorium. The mainstage is capable of hosting an array of performance types, which include theatre, dance, and contemporary, classical, and traditional music. The mainstage is bolstered by a 150-seat rehearsal space, alongside flexible spaces for breakout performances and intimate gatherings.

the inside of the concert hall showing the timber lined walls combined with wall panels that are reminiscent of the exterior stone facade

The Boca del Rio Philharmonic performs on the mainstage. Image © Jaime Navarro

a lobby space with terraced stair seating that can be used as a temporary performance space

A flexible interior performance and rehearsal space. Image © Jaime Navarro

Backstage, the building provides for the needs of the Philharmonic and visiting performers with individual warm-up spaces, green rooms, and the like, all framed by dramatic—and soundproof—concrete walls punctuated by vertical bands of transparent glass windows. Clad in warm timber and concrete, the interiors are generous, comfortable, and visually exciting. At the building’s core, a three-story atrium provides floor-to-ceiling daylight, though windows are carefully hidden from view to ensure a divine experience.

a three story atrium showing the striation of the concrete form work on the walls

A three-story atrium brings daylight into the building’s core. Image © Jaime Navarro

timber balustrades highlight the circulation through the lobby space

Circulation spaces are bathed in natural light and clad in timber and concrete. Image © Jaime Navarro

Outside, the public plaza is enclosed by a jagged breakwall inspired by the rocky Boca del Rio coastline. An expansive outdoor oceanside living room, the plaza offers panoramic views of the ocean and of Fora Boca’s raw edges, framed by the constant crash of waves and the bustle of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Sandwiched between Avenue Vicente Fox and a small pedestrian pier, the plaza serves as a social connector and gathering place at the heart of the city—the Philharmonic has already begun screening films on the building’s immense facades.

a detail of the facade highlighting the imprint of the striated timber form work

A facade detail. Image © Iker Gil

an outdoor terrace overlooking the Gulf of Mexico

A terrace overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the plaza outside Foro Boca. Image © Iker Gil

three separate building volumes made from in-situ concrete

The textured facade of Foro Boca. Image © Jaime Navarro

Drawing from Mexican vernacular architecture, Foro Boca deftly blends the use of concrete as a functional building element with contemporary design strategies. Whether Brutalist revival or merely an experiment in patterned concrete, the building succeeds as an architectural marvel in an elegant contrast with the historic architecture of Veracruz.

the building sitting on the tip of the peninsula overlooking the sea

Foro Boca. Image © Jaime Navarro


CITYBoca del Rio
SIZE5410 sq.m
ARCHITECTRojkind Arquitectos