Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza: From Primordial Sea to Public Space

Hardcover | January 16, 2013

byLogan Wagner, Hal Box, Susan Kline Morehead

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The plaza has been a defining feature of Mexican urban architecture and culture for at least 4,000 years. Ancient Mesoamericans conducted most of their communal life in outdoor public spaces, and today the plaza is still the public living room in every Mexican neighborhood, town, and city—the place where friends meet, news is shared, and personal and communal rituals and celebrations happen. The site of a community's most important architecture—church, government buildings, and marketplace—the plaza is both sacred and secular space and thus the very heart of the community.

This extensively illustrated book traces the evolution of the Mexican plaza from Mesoamerican sacred space to modern public gathering place. The authors led teams of volunteers who measured and documented nearly one hundred traditional Mexican town centers. The resulting plans reveal the layers of Mesoamerican and European history that underlie the contemporary plaza. The authors describe how Mesoamericans designed their ceremonial centers as embodiments of creation myths—the plaza as the primordial sea from which the earth emerged. They discuss how Europeans, even though they sought to eradicate native culture, actually preserved it as they overlaid the Mesoamerican sacred plaza with the Renaissance urban concept of an orthogonal grid with a central open space. The authors also show how the plaza's historic, architectural, social, and economic qualities can contribute to mainstream urban design and architecture today.

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The plaza has been a defining feature of Mexican urban architecture and culture for at least 4,000 years. Ancient Mesoamericans conducted most of their communal life in outdoor public spaces, and today the plaza is still the public living room in every Mexican neighborhood, town, and city—the place where friends meet, news is shared, a...

Logan Wagner, who grew up in Mexico, is an architect, author, and teacher of architectural design, architectural history, and vernacular building techniques. He is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture at Texas A&M University. He coauthored Contemporary Mexican Design and Architecture.The late Hal Box was Professor Emeritus and...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:273 pages, 11.25 × 8.89 × 1.12 inPublished:January 16, 2013Publisher:University of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292719167

ISBN - 13:9780292719163

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Table of Contents

Authors' Note Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One. The Primordial Sea: Forming Open Space in Mesoamerica Mesoamerican Concept of Space Mountains and Altepetls Caves, Quatrefoils, and Sunken Courts Types of Open Space in Mesoamerica Triad Centering * U-shaped Courts * Quadrangles Quincunx: Symbol of the Cosmos Ballcourts The Sunken Court of Teopantecuanitlán The Dallas Plaque: A Cosmogram Chapter Two. Forming Spanish Towns in Mesoamerican Culture People and Ideas The Invasion The Europeans Making Contact European Plazas in the Early Sixteenth Century Origins of the Plaza Building New World Towns Types of Towns * First Acts and Encounters Laws of the Indies Conversion Quincunx Patios Relaciones Geográficas Chapter Three. Sixteenth-Century Communal Open Spaces (Five Hundred Years Later) Caves and Crevices Amecameca, State of México * Zoquizoquipan, Hidalgo * Valladolid, Yucatán Quincunxial Arrangements Atlatlahuacan, Morelos * Huejotzingo, Puebla * Huaquechula, Puebla * Zacualpan de Amilpas, Morelos Terraced Mountains Molango, Hidalgo * Achiutla, Oaxaca * Yanhuitlán, Oaxaca Sunken Courts Tepoztlán, Morelos * Tochimilco, Puebla * Calpan, Puebla Ballcourts and Bullrings Villa Díaz Ordaz, Oaxaca * Tlanalapa, Hidalgo * Tepeapulco, Hidalgo Open Space Ensembles Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca * Tlacolula, Oaxaca * Otumba de Gómez Farías, State of México * Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca * Tepeaca, Puebla * Etla, Oaxaca Bishop Quiroga's Utopias in Michoacán Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán * Pátzcuaro, Michoacán * Santa Fe de la Laguna, Michoacán * Erongarícuaro, Michoacán * Angahuan, Michoacán Visible Overlays and Deliberate Alignments Mitla, Oaxaca * Hacienda Xaaga, Oaxaca * Teposcolula, Oaxaca * Coixtlahuaca, Oaxaca * Epazoyucan, Hidalgo The Yucatán Experience Yotholín, Yucatán * Tibolón, Yucatán * Izamal, Yucatán Chapter Four. Origins and Evolution Epilogue: Plazas in the Twenty-first Century The San Miguel Example Qualities of Successful Plazas Sprawl and the American Myth Appendix. Measured Drawings: Plans of Towns Notes Glossary Bibliography Index

Editorial Reviews

Generously illustrated with diagrams and measured drawings of the sites analyzed, this volume also offers information on the pre-Hispanic sites and form surrounding them. Summing Up: Highly recommended. - L.E. Carranza, Roger Williams University