Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza
From Primordial Sea to Public Space
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Texas Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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The Mexican plaza is the most complete expression of Mexico’s rich four-thousand-year-old multifaceted heritage. It is the open-air heart of every Mexican neighborhood, town, and city—its communal living room. The plaza is part of an ensemble of secular and sacred communal open spaces that include the cloister; the sacred patio, or atrio, of the church; and sometimes a civic or market plaza. The evolution and comparison of these dynamic spaces shaped...
1. The Primordial Sea: Forming Open Space in Mesoamerica
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The concept of the plaza might have been created when hunter-gatherers selected a stopping place in their wilderness world and marked it, perhaps by laying three stones, to identify it as a place known to them, a place to which they could return, a place that could center their group for the task of finding food. That three-stone place, or...
2. Forming Spanish Towns in Mesoamerican Culture
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As Mesoamerica flourished during the fifteenth century, with cities as large as those in Europe,1 the cultures of the two continents had no idea that the other existed or that they would make dramatic contact. Two distinct peoples with completely different and proud backgrounds meeting in the Americas would create a third culture. To aid in understanding the mind-set of the sixteenth-century Europeans who would come to Mesoamerica, let us consider...
3. Sixteenth-Century Communal Open Spaces (Five Hundred Years Later)
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With the scholarship and field observations of earlier generations in hand, such as work done by Manuel Toussaint, George Kubler, John McAndrew, Elizabeth Wilder Weisman, and others, we organized our teams to examine sixteenth-century towns formed by the fusion of Mesoamerican and Spanish planning concepts. It seemed appropriate to expand the previous scholarship by considering the interior of the church and the public plaza as two extensions...
4. Origins and Evolution
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The discovery and subsequent colonization of the continent of America by Europeans, two conceptually different cultures, began a process of acculturation that transformed both. The dialogue that ensued was initiated within the Mesoamerican open urban space, space that would be transformed by the overlay of the conquering culture’s own ideas of urban design and the incorporation of plazas...
Epilogue. Plazas in the Twenty-first Century
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An important part of our study considers how plazas create the central meeting place or “living room” for a neighborhood, town, or city. We wanted to find out how these spaces actually work as social centers and what particular ingredients and relationships are necessary to give plazas the vitality we still see in them today. There is a possibility...
Appendix. Measured Drawings: Plans of Towns
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Page Count: 273
Illustrations: 332 color and b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Roger Fullington Series in Architecture