In Jalisco, a western state of Mexico’s Pacific Coast there is a pre-Hispanic archaeological complex called Guachimontones. Purely because of geographic misfortune and urbanisation, the ruins of this beautifully rounded pyramid lie forgotten despite its rich heritage and archeological significance.
The majority of rural Mexico don’t have access to cultural experiences on par with their urban counterparts, living in a situation quite similar to most of rural South Africa, so for them Guachimontones couldn’t be further away. So when a recent surge in interest towards public education by municipal governments provided Guadalajara-based Estudio 3.14 a long awaited opportunity at designing an inflatable structure, they ran toward it, recognizing the opportunity and potential of the brief.
The inflatable travelling museum they came up with in response to this renewed interest entailed creating a traveling exhibition to be shown at elementary schools teaching the cultural history of the teuchitlan tradition – a pre-columbian society that occupied modern day Nayarit and Jalisco. Like a travelling circus, the Guachimontones balloon arrives at local schools all packed up, ready to unveil the story of a civilisation that once pioneered the worlds of agriculture and crafts. First it erects a flag, announcing the beginning of the show as excitable children gather curiously, waiting for the giant white balloon to inflate.
Similar to the pyramid it is inspired by, the Guachimontones travelling museum is spherical in shape and rich in archaeological concepts, with the added benefit of being an autonomous inflatable structure. Compact, light and naturally lit, the translucent material lights up inside, giving the feeling of being inside a fluorescent light bulb. The entrance is wide enough to fit a group of students, but narrow enough to maintain a sense of mystery for the tunnel experience that is to come. Part of its intrigue is this element of the unknown, hiding behind the curve, waiting just around the corner.
Read more on this inspired piece of traveling architecture.