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Academic and Cultural Center of San Pablo, Alfred Harp-Helú Foundation

Academic and Cultural Center of San Pablo, Alfred Harp-Helú Foundation

Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo
Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Project Year
Primary Schools

Secondary Schools

Cultural Centres
Sandra Pereznieto

Academic and Cultural Center of San Pablo, Alfred Harp-Helú Foundation

Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo as Architects

The ex convent of San Pablo (Saint Paul) was the first Dominican convent ever built in the city of Oaxaca and it´s located just one block away from the city´s main square. Through the years the building suffered from several modificationswith a lack of architectural value, affecting both its image and structure. In 2008 a rescue project was started in order to restore the original structure and give the building a new usage. The project recovered 90% of the high and low corridors, but in order to increase space it was compulsory to placea light non permanent metallic structure on the west side of the complex.

This contemporary element along with the east corridor, creates a useful space with a surface of almost 700 square meters distributed in 3 levels, satisfyingthe area requirements for the operation of the Linguistic and Historic Studies and Exhibition Center that houses a specialized book collection as well as cultural and exhibition activities done under a safe and stable environment.

The flexibility of the project allows the space to be divided in two main areas. The first one concerns the reading rooms located in the interior of the building, related directly with the patio,cloisteredby a glass façade and shaded with the use of a mobile cover. The second area concerns the archive/deposit, concentrated within the west corridor, takes advantage of the massive condition of the convent and locates the mayor part of the collection directly at the wall, avoiding this way the damage due to the excessive weight.

To the exterior —where it used to be a public parking lot— the church´s atrium is placed, reached by two narrow streets that preserve their original dimensions. The idea was to transform it into the heart of the block, an uncommon typology in the city of Oaxaca, that will become a meeting and distribution point to the rest of the buildings that constitute the complex.

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