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Mexico restores Church of San Lorenzo for its 13th Venice Architecture Biennale pavilion
Old Church of San Lorenzo, Venice. Detail of the altar. Photo: Emanuele Basso - Greenspin.

VENICE.- Mexico came to an agreement with the Venice Comune to restore the Church of San Lorenzo and use it as Mexico's home for the city's art and architecture biennales over the next nine years. In doing so, Mexico is not only making a commitment to putting on show the best creations of its artists and architects but also contributing to restoring Venice's built heritage. On this occasion the spectacular space of the Church of San Lorenzo is not yet in a safe condition to allow visitors, so they are invited to view the future setting for the Mexican headquarters and for exhibiting contemporary architecture 'from the entrance'. 'Culture Under Construction' is the motto of the architecture exhibition, in response to the theme of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, Common Ground. The selection of projects, curated by Miquel Adrià, brings together the most recent interventions in Mexican architectural heritage with proposals that house cultural centers, libraries, museums, galleries, cinetheques, plazas, parks and other spaces for culture, as a foreshadowing, by analogy, of the future restoration of the Church of San Lorenzo.

Mexico is putting on show thirteen recent works – some still under construction – that expand the range of contemporary cultural venues housed in pre-existing buildings. Some of these are interventions in buildings of historical value that are listed and protected, such as the Spanish Cultural Center, which is an extension to a 17th-century palace, the Arts Center in San Luís Potosí in a former Panopticon-like prison from the late 19th century, the San Pablo Cultural Center in Oaxaca, inserted in a 16th-century palace, the extension to the colonial building that houses the Amparo Museum in Puebla, and in Mexico City, the restoration of the Monument to the Revolution and the Plaza de la República, the refurbishment of the Rufino Tamayo Museum, and above all the gathering of the libraries of the most outstanding writers and diplomats of the past century in the Ciudadela to create the City of Books and the Image. Other projects install contemporary spaces in old sheds and warehouses transformed into arts venues, such as the Siqueiros Workshop in Cuernavaca, and the Elena Garro Cultural Center, the Kurimanzutto Gallery and the National Cinetheque in Mexico City, while still others complement the existing setting with cultural facilities, gardens and urban parks, like the Labyrinth Museum of Arts and Sciences in San Luis Potosí and the Botanical Garden in Culiacán. Altogether they present a panorama of Mexico's Common Ground, where the diversity of proposals and generations of architects focused on cultural buildings is in itself a demonstration of the country's cultural wealth.

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