Dezeen Magazine

Espacio Santa Tere in Mexico

Primary colours fill converted brick structure in San Miguel de Allende

Architecture studios Oficina de Diseño Colaborativo and Atelier TBD have created a cultural space that preserves the "self-built essence" of San Miguel de Allende.

Created in collaboration with interior studio Maye Colab, Santa Tere Espacio is a cultural space and office that will primarily serve to foster reading in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Blue doorway in alleyway
OCD, Atelier TBD and Maye Colab have created a brightly coloured cultural space in Mexico

"Santa Tere Espacio emerged from the idea of creating architecture through renovation, reuse, repair, and repurposing," said the team. 

"Based on the self-built essence of the neighbourhood, Office of Collaborative Design, TBD Atelier, and Maye Colab joined forces with a shared vision to propose a project that engages with the site's legacy."

A blue door open to red-tiled kitchen
Located in San Miguel de Allende, the team sought to preserve the "self-built" nature of the city

According to the team, self-construction is a "common building practice in Latin America", a technique they sought to preserve by repurposing both the existing architecture and materials from the site, which was a former six-room, single-story dwelling.

For Santa Tere Espacio, the team distributed several meeting rooms, a kitchenette, a bathroom and a central courtyard along the structure's lateral plan with a second, detached bathroom tucked into a corner of the site. 

yellow chairs in front of a blue door
The site was a former single-story residence

A long alleyway, marked with a curving concrete path, runs along the length of the exterior and provides access to each space.

"The intervention primarily involved demolitions to bring in light and allow ventilation of the spaces, and the incorporation of new elements such as doors, windows, and tile finishes that contrast with the pre-existing structure," said the team.

Yellow walls facing a blue colored door
The team preserved much of the existing architecture and repurposed material found on-site

"Openings were created in the form of doors, windows, and domes, and some walls were demolished to make way for the central courtyard."

Colab worked with a palette of red, yellow and pink on the interior, based on hues found during construction.

primary colored office
The interior palette was informed by colours found during the construction

"The idea of capturing the site's essence is also reflected in the project's colour palette, designed based on the colours found in the construction, with a contrasting colour being the blue of the ironwork."

Bright blue windows and doors were distributed across the space and finished with geometric handles.

A red table and office chair
Red was primarily used for furnishings

Interior furnishings were finished primarily in red, with the kitchenette covered in bright red tile and desks throughout the space trimmed in the same shade.

In a desk at the front of the building, the stalk of a plant grows through an opening carved in its surface, while a silver of a triangular skylight sits above.

Triangular skylight
It features a central courtyard

The project's landscape design incorporates both native plants and others commonly found around the neighbourhood's rooftops, patios and facades.

A spindly palo verde plant was planted in the courtyard to provide shade, a species considered sacred to the Aztecs and associated with the feathered serpent god, according to the team. 

Santa Tere Espacio will act as a co-working and cultural space and will host OCD, Maye Colab and the bookstore Una Boutique de Libros.

Programming will focus on "reading, feminism, design and diversity". 

Blue metal door
Blue ironwork was used for windows and doors

Founded by Nadyeli Quiroz Radaelli, OCD and Maye Colab are design studios based in Mexico, while Atelier TBD, founded by Victor Wu, is an architecture office based between Brooklyn, Taipei and San Miguel.

Elsewhere in San Miguel de Allende, design studio Mestiz opened a studio to showcase its collaborations with local craftspeople.

The photography is by Leandro Bulzzano.

Project credits:

Architecture: Oficina de Diseño Colaborativo OCD, Atelier TBD
Interior design: Oficina de Diseño Colaborativo OCD, Atelier TBD, Maye Colab
Furniture and colorimetry: Maye Colab
Landscape architecture: Oficina de Diseño Colaborativo OCD, Atelier TBD
Principals: Maye Ruiz, Nadyeli Quiroz, Victor Wu
Design team: Alejandra Skinfield, Paola Bravo, Sara Lopez Farias
Structural consultant: Formula+, Yoyo Wu
Steelwork: Crónica Estudio

More images and plans

section drawing for Espacio santa tere
section drawing for Espacio santa tere
section drawing for Espacio santa tere
section drawing for Espacio santa tere
exploded axon graphic for Espacio santa tere
man digging into ruble
bright blue window and door in an alley
bright blue window and door in an alley
blue window
the corner of a primary coloured space
two people standing in front of a yellow wall