History is written by the victors, and a victory always calls for some kind of public work. Ten Arquitectos won a competition to design a monument to the “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” in the Mexican city where it was fought.
Also known as Cinco de Mayo, the battle is remembered (and in many cases forgotten again due to all the tequila) through one of the liveliest of Mexican holidays. This monument was built in to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle. Ten Arquitectos proposed a public square looking over the city of Puebla for the monument, allowing it to be used by the city and the people rather than just visited at by tourists and schoolchildren on outings. The square is made up of undulating strips of wood that create a topography of hills and vales. These not only make the space more dynamic and views more accessible, but also define the program of the space and allow for covered spaces. A gallery is created by one of these undulations, with it’s top acting as an amphitheater. Another creates a playroom and rest area, while a third becomes a café. Of course it wouldn’t be a monument without some symbolism. Lampposts dotted around the plaza count the number of battalions in the battle. There are also 150 trees, one for each year since, that protect the users from the sun.
Monuments of this kind are usually of the folly/bronze stature variety, which is what makes TEN Arquitectos’s public square so refreshing. Instead of a foreboding monolith, the square encourages citizens to experience it, celebrating not only the battle, but also the life that it has afforded them.