Elena Garro Cultural Center | Centro Cultural Elena Garro

Elena Garro Cultural Center


Client:  Mexico’s Ministry of Culture

Type:  Cultural Center

Location:  Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico

Size:  1,358 m²

Status:  Built

Year:  2013

a l 911 Team:  Jose Castillo, Saidee Springall,

Iván Cervantes, Edgar Romero,
Javier Juárez, Arturo Carreón, Anabel Chávez.

Partners:  Fernanda Canales,

Paloma Torres

Photography: Jaime Navarro, Sandra Pereznieto

Project Description:

Commissioned by Conaculta, the Federal Secretary of Culture, the project is based on the idea of highlighting the existing early 20th century house and creating an open space for a new bookstore and spaces for cultural activities.

The project solved the challenge through a strategy that strives to preserve and heighten the character of the existing building.

Towards the front of the street, an extension is built as a concrete frame with a glass façade that serves as a public foyer and re-establishes a relationship between the building and the street. The double-height walls are used as bookcases that allude to the program of the cultural center. The demolition of a wall that separated street from property and a new garden act as an expansion of the sidewalk. Inside this front volume, the existing trees are preserved and a series of skylights in the roof allow them to keep growing and simultaneously bring in light.


The interior of the existing house is transformed with a series of perforations that create double-height spaces and reading rooms. The addition at the back of the site includes a parking in the basement and seminar rooms, offices, restrooms and a small auditorium in the two main floors. Offices and seminar rooms face a courtyard that brings natural light. On the northern side of the property is a reading garden with lush vegetation and soft paving designed with Entorno and a large cast-in-bronze doors by Paloma Torres, that configure an exterior space that connects to the existing building through the cafeteria.

The limited material palette, discrete volumetric interventions, articulations between old and new and the exterior spaces attempt to give a new life to the existing property, creating a local cultural program for the neighborhood and honor the legacy of the Mexican author Elena Garro.

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