Opening Shot
Wallpaper|April 2018

How a Mexican movie mogul is hoping to revitalise his home town with a multi-venue master plan.

Morelia is a sleeping beauty of a town, built in the 16th century and with a historic centre that rivals the best of Europe. Today, the city is as well known for its colonial buildings in rose-coloured stone and its international film festival as for being the capital of Michoacán, the state where Mexico’s drug war began. As a result, Morelia is something that is increasingly hard to find: a ‘touristic city without tourists’, in the words of the Argentinian architect Luis Laplace.

Based in Paris, where he has run his own practice (with co-founder Christophe Comoy) since 2004, Laplace had never visited Mexico before first going to Morelia three years ago. Since then, he’s spent quite a bit of time in this city, renovating a 4,000 sq m property overlooking the central plaza.

The property’s owner, Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, is CEO of Cinépolis, one of the world’s largest cinema chains. Born in Morelia, Ramírez wanted to buy a secondary residence here. The house he chose included shops at street level, which he decided to maintain as public spaces, hoping they would enhance Morelia’s appeal for others who might restore and reoccupy its old palaces. ‘Morelia is where I grew up,’ Ramírez says. ‘The city has changed since then and become more a place to come to work rather than live. I want people to come back. The city has a lot to offer: architecture, historical museums and the film festival.’

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