Elena Garro Cultural Center

Fernanda Canales as Architects

The project, located in Coyoacán, is an adaptation of an existing house, a listed building from early-20th century- which was transformed into a cultural center on Fernández Leal street. The need to preserve the existing property led to the decision that the project would highlight the new uses and, at the same time, respect the original shell. Thus, the project consists of several elements that define the intervention: a first part which marks the entrance, a kind of frame, linking the building with the street and highlighting the existing house; secondly, a series of gardens and courtyards surrounding the project and inserted inside; and, finally, a rectangular volume at the back of the site, developed on three levels, consisting of a multi- purpose room, storerooms, and parking lots on ground floor. These pieces mark the different paths and manage to bind all the parts of the project.


The first element, which extends from the street by means of the pavement, frames the existing house, highlighting the central access porch and leading into the library, composed of double heights and perforations for natural light. The old house becomes the central space, dedicated to the library, which is visible from the street, as a large and public space. By means of a ladder which resembles the original one, the visitor is taken to the top floor of the library. All three volumes are connected together on the first level through the library, with a ladder at the rear volume that connects the different levels and also gives access from the parking lot. This staircase also leads to a terrace on the roof level.


By means of the aisle inside the library, the project is connected to the new volume at the back of the property. The connection of the two bodies is built around a sequence of full and void, with a courtyard and an elevator handled as transparent box, as the centerpiece of the joint. This small courtyard, a small cafeteria, evidences the "bridge" connecting the two volumes. The entire project is seen as a separate part of the existing house and can allow at all times a reversible intervention if necessary. Using materials such as volcanic stone on the exteriors, as well as tzalam wood and gray granite on the indoors, the whole complex is integrated.


The high spaces of the original house are used for generating intermediate heights in the new rear block services. The roof of the new building is treated as a green roof, continuing the idea of interconnected spaces. Furthermore, the gardens become more relevant for being integrated into the access plaza and along the length of the volume of existing property, even tucking around the side where the old and new are mixed. The gardens were designed by Hugo Sanchez and Tonatiuh Martinez's office Entorno, by properly integrating vegetation into the project. The new building envisages the existing trees as a key feature, which acquires an important hierarchy, and is complemented by a number of water bodies on the outside and two large green walls.

Elena Garro Cultural Center

a | 911 as Architects

The project is based on the idea of highlighting the existing early 20th century house and creating an open space for a new bookstore as well as adding spaces for cultural activities. The preexistence of the house, made us take a decision to establish new volumes adjoining, butting up-against, and defining interesting relationships with the original house. A concrete frame in the front, with a glass facade brings out the books towards the street and at the same time incorporates the trees into the inside. From the outside the building is perceived like a great public foyer where books, vegetation and the existing house façade is exhibited, serving as a pre-amble to the rest of the program. The project is distributed in three principal blocks, the front with a triple ceiling height is almost an exterior space; the existing house, destined to be a bookstore, is converted into a transition space to the back which is the auditorium, classrooms, services, offices and parking. Most of the program is concentrated in the new block to the back of the building, which is developed in four levels.

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