Horno 3: Museo Del Acero
Horno³ :Museo Del Acero is a Museum of Steel, designed in and around Horno Alto #3, one of the three original blast furnaces in Monterrey’s Parque Fundidora. The design converts the 70-metre-high furnace structure into a series of habitable volumes and adds 9,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor museum space. The client aimed to create a living museum which celebrated the rich industrial heritage of the area. They also aimed to create a showcase for local craftsmanship and large parts of the project are manufactured locally. As Horno3 was always intended to be a centrepiece at Monterrey’s hosting of the International Forum of Cultures in September 2007, the entire project was subject to a very tight schedule, with little room for deviation. Horno3: Museo Del Acero comprises a full restoration of the once derelict 1960’s blast furnace structure and a sensitive new building which provides extra gallery space for the new Museum of Steel. The abandoned blast furnace structure and cast hall are the centrepiece of the museum. They house an interactive exhibit which brings the old furnace to simulated life, allowing visitors the unique experience of touring inside this piece of industrial history. Due to its location, the furnace also acts as the central organizing hub for the rest of the museum. The design has retained the structure’s original iron-ore elevator, now retrofitted with a funicular style cab, on the furnace tower. The elevator climbs 140 feet into the sky allowing visitors to stroll around the original exterior catwalks that meander around the furnace, its pipes and stoves. This vertiginous tour allows visitors a close-up inspection of the historical skeleton and provides sweeping panoramas of the surrounding city and distant mountain ranges. The rich patina of the original structure has been restored by the removal of loose rust and paint and the application of a clear protective coating. Adjacent to the restored blast furnace, a new addition houses an entry wing and the striking Steel Gallery, which acts as an architectural focal point and a counterpoint to the existing industrial complex. This new gallery is largely subterranean, allowing it to work discreetly within the context of the blast furnace which has recently been designated a National Industrial Heritage Site and won several other national awards. The new roof structures are vegetated and predominantly planted with native Love Grass, which is a species adapted to the low rainfall typical of Northern Mexico. The Steel Gallery roof is planted with a quilt of flowering sedums that follows the angular forms of the tessellated steel structure below. In all cases the vegetation has been specifically selected to reduce maintenance and irrigation, and is designed to provide habitats for local forms of wildlife and a resting spot for the annual butterfly migration that passes through the Parque Fundidora. All roof surfaces harvest rainwater, which is directed into a series of underground cisterns. This water is then reused for landscape irrigation and as an emergency reservoir for the museum. The cisterns also minimize peak storm water discharge by diverting rainwater from the sewer system during extreme weather. Low flow fixtures, including dual flush toilets and motion activated faucets, are used throughout the museum to further conserve water. Both the refurbishment and new build respond strongly to the site’s history as a steelworks. This is made most explicit in a series of structural elements which advance the limits of modern steel fabrication. The tessellated roof over the Steel Gallery demonstrates how, with today’s computer-aided technology, sheet material can be transformed into structurally rigid forms by complex faceting. Similarly the design of a helical steel stair relied on extensive computed stress analysis to allow the optimization of its coiled stringer and cantilevering treads to the engineering limits of structural steel. Horno3 surpasses International Energy Code requirements (ASHRAE 90.1). The two largest spaces, the Steel Gallery and Cast Hall, benefit from displacement ventilation, which allows enhanced comfort and acoustics with significantly lower energy usage than traditional HVAC mixed-air systems. This makes use of natural stratification by supplying less cooled air at lower velocity and allowing it to pool in big volume spaces before it is extracted at a higher level. An underground ice storage system also helps provide lower energy costs and peak loads by producing ice overnight which is then used to cool the building during the day. The building is passively shaded and insulated to conserve energy. Custom designed sun screens are orientated to block solar heat and diffuse natural light into the internal spaces. The Cast Hall roof and walls are clad in individually arrayed steel sheets which are subtly tilted around window spaces to maximise light and external views. Finish materials are robust and include low VOC product coatings throughout. Many of them are self finishing, including polished concrete floors and various finished steel products that are used extensively throughout the building to minimize maintenance requirements. The Museum is a source of pride for the city and its industrial region and has already attracted 145,000 visitors in the six months it has been open.

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