The El Toreo shopping center is Mexico City’s largest retail center, built on the site of a former bullfighting arena to revitalize an area overtaken by urban sprawl. The project architect Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos specified a modern, glass ceiling with a central dome almost 200 feet in diameter that moves to adapt to climate conditions. Dünn Lightweight Architecture, Zapopan, Mexico, calls the ceiling “one of our greatest challenges.” The design features 215,000 square feet of glass and a dome with shard-shaped fabric sections that open and close.
The final dome design consisted of 116 automated triangular sections with aluminum frames and a fiberglass composite membrane from Serge Ferrari North America. The translucent membrane allows light through the dome. Each triangle features two engines and a hinge system that ensures that a closed panel provides an airtight and leakproof seal. Cranes couldn’t enter the construction space, so Dünn used a cable to transport the triangular pieces into position. The resulting modern, dynamic and mobile ceiling dome looks like glass breaking and re-forming as the weather opens or closes the triangular sections.