INSITE and Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT).
Gustavo Lipkau – Xavier Hierro
For El Ágora, INSITE commissioned Mexican architects Gustavo Lipkau and Xavier Hierro to rethink, redesign, and remodel the 3,280 square-foot space on the ground floor of the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) that for years had been used to host visual arts exhibitions. With the opening of El Cubo in 2008, a new building with museum quality conditions, the space was more or less abandoned and the CECUT’s director, Teresa Vicencio, was receptive to proposals for a transformation that would invite various forms of public participation.
Lipkau and Hierro envisioned El Ágora as a new public forum that would accommodate informal gatherings, talks and lectures, performance, a modest library and reading area, and space for the display of archives and other historical material. Towards this goal, the architects combined the open, stark, brutalist design of the CECUT, with platforms made of light-colored woods that conjured floating, interconnected tectonic plates. The open amphitheater-style lecture area accommodated seating for 150. All areas of El Ágora had free and fast wireless connectivity, an unusual and significant feature of a Tijuana public space in its time. El Ágora functioned through the end of 2009 when it was dismantled by a newly installed CECUT administration.