la petatera: transitory architecture
irudia
Ever since 1857, every time February comes around, a 5,000 square metre bullring is built in the Mexican village of Villa de Alvarez. This special bullring becomes the centre of the region during the six weeks the festivities in honour of Saint Felipe de Jesus last.

It’s commonly known as ¨La Petatera¨ because the whole bullring is surfaced with petate bedrolls made from fibres from the palm tree. The system used to build the bullring is based on ancient methods developed by the Indian peoples who have always lived in the area. Wood, rope and bed mats are what are used. Nowadays, they use the odd nail but they aren’t really necessary. As Desiderio Contreras, in charge of the building of the bullring these days, puts it: The building starts with the drawing of a circle in the centre. The circle has a diameter of about 60 metres and the stands are built around this circle. About 70 different sections in total. Each section is about 2.5 metres wide, 3.5 metres high and 9 metres long. Each one of these sections seats about 70-80 people, so, well, you can do the maths. When the bullring is full, there are 5,000 spectators, that’s without counting the people who sneak in and hide under
the stands....


After six weeks of use, the whole structure is taken down in a single day.