Elena Garro Cultural Centre by
Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

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Mexican architects Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc have wrapped a concrete and glass frame around the front of an old house in Mexico City to convert the building into a library (+ slideshow).

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

The Elena Garro Cultural Centre is a two-storey library in Coyoacán, south of the city.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

The rectangular concrete volume extends from the brick and plaster facade of the early twentieth-century house, doubling the floorspace inside the property and creating a new entrance.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

The front elevation is fully glazed and integrates a system of vertical louvres, which rotate to allow ventilation through the building during its opening hours.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

A double-height foyer sits behind the new facade, which Fernanda Canales and Saidee Springall of Arquitectura 911sc imagined as an indoor courtyard overlooked by the balconies and windows of the original building.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Trees continue to grow up through the centre of the room and one emerges through a large skylight.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

"The project is the idea of highlighting the existing house and making an 'open' library space," explains Arquitectura 911sc. "Thus, a transparent block 'draws' books forward into the street and at the same time incorporates trees inside."

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

The first floor of the old building is replaced, creating a mezzanine of reading rooms and balconies.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

A multi-purpose room and storerooms are also contained within the old building, while parking areas are located in the basement.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Doors at the back of the building lead out to a courtyard and cafe.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Another recent project by Fernanda Canales is a concrete house in Mexico City. See more architecture in Mexico.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

See more libraries on Dezeen, including one controlled by robots and one lined with walnut.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Photography is by Sandra Pereznieto.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Here's a little more information from the architects:


Elena Garro Cultural Centre

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 centre on Fernández Leal Street.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

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.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

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.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

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 to enter.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

The old house becomes the central space, dedicated to the library, which is visible from the street, as a large and public space.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

By means of a ladder which resembles the original one, the visitor is taken to the top floor of the library.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

All three volumes are connected together on the first level through the library, with a ladder to the bottom of 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 plant.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

By means of the aisle inside the library, the project is connected to the new volume to the back of the property. The connection of the two bodies is built around a sequence of full and empty, 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.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

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.

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Architectural project: Fernanda Canales + Saidee Springall + arquitectura911sc
Location: Coyoacán, Ciudad de México
Year: 2013

Elena Garro Cultural Centre by Fernanda Canales and Arquitectura 911sc

Artistic collaboration: Paloma Torres
Landscape: Entorno - Tonatiuh, Martínez y Hugo Sánchez
Surface: 1,500 m2

  • T,.T

    A real house for everyone.

  • Tie

    Stellar understanding of materials, space and light!

  • alex f

    Funny to read all the neighbours’ protests against the project on the exterior wall of the former house. link to the street view of Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/SQdmK

  • Louise Lowry

    What a wonderful idea, to preserve an old building with distictive architectural details safely inside!

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez

    Really nice photos. Would like to go there. Just some remarks (that I realised after Googling more info about the project)..

    1. It is located in Mexico City (Coyacan is one of the oldest and most beautiful neighbourhoods)
    2. The photos correspond to the bookstore of the cutural centre to which it belongs, not a public library.

  • Anthony Borden

    Beautiful project, I am curious to know how they detail the tree penetration in the skylight to seal it.

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    This is not a real public library, more like a book store + cafeteria, hence the protests alex f. mentioned.

  • http://www.nicolaloder.com.au nicola

    Stunningly articulated building on all levels. Curious how they sealed the skylight with the tree?

  • Gary Walmsley

    Love the interior shots, but the harsh concrete walls of the exterior not only loose me, I believe they undercut the beauty of the rest of the work.