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Centro DIF San Pedro Comitancillo

Type. Community Centre

Location. San Pedro Comitancillo, Oaxaca, Mexico
Client. SEDATU

Status. Built 2024

Plot Size. 212.03 sqm

Building Area. 312.35 sqm

Project Description.

Centro DIF is a modestly sized community center in the heart of San Pedro Comitancillo a small town in Oaxaca in south-western Mexico within the Istmo Region. The new community center replaced a small, deteriorated one-level facility that had no spatial quality and very limited outdoor space. Fitting the extensive program into a 212 m2 plot has been a real design challenge. By arranging the building in an L-shaped fashion and moving some of the program to the second level it was managed to achieve on the same tight plot an outdoor patio as well as a shaded event area. This gave the local community a new space that is utilized for gatherings, workshops, and other events.

The plot was divided into five 3-meter-wide rows defining a structural grid, each crowned by a shallow concrete vault. The full width of the front façade cladded with a concrete lattice does not immediately give away the activities within the building. A full-height door leading into a narrow alley brings the visitor into an open patio flanked by a sculptural staircase. The outdoor space is directly adjacent to a semi-open, double-height, shaded area that can hold events and gatherings while serving as a public dining area. The kitchen is strategically placed to serve this space, and a generous storage area for emergency supplies is provided with direct access from the street. The main meeting room is located upstairs along with two more consultation rooms and the manager’s office.

Behind the concrete lattice, a glazed sliding door system allows for natural ventilation from all spaces.  Additional natural light from the top of the vaults fills the spaces, minimizing the need for artificial lighting.

The project plays with different concrete textures with a similar earthy tonality. A smooth semi polished finish defines the curved parts of the building like the staircase and the vaults, while the orthogonal surfaces are finished with a ribbed horizontal in-situ texture. The surrounding perimeter features a rustic, texturized finish which acts as a backdrop for vegetation accents. The building achieves a simple sense of beauty by playing with different textures, patterns, and maximizing light-shadow movements. The material pallet is enriched by tropical wooden details such as in doors and ceilings. Slim and elegant metal handrails with a color to match the rest of the materials are a finishing touch for the building.

The challenge of the project was to provide a cool space in Oaxaca's hot and humid weather. The double-height multi-purpose space and the relatively tall 3.4 m offices promote cross-ventilation. A bespoke concrete block window lattice is designed to minimize thermal gains; the opening sizes are smaller at high incidence angles and bigger at eye level to allow for visibility. As the sun moves through the sky the lattice produces an intricate play of shadows traveling through different spaces of the building.

Project Team: 

Architects: AIDIA STUDIO

Design: Rolando Rodriguez-Leal, Natalia Wrzask

Lead Architect: Jose Luis Mulás

Project Team: Nitze Magaña, Ernesto Pinto, Aranzazu Sánchez, Cecilia Simón

Structural Engineering: Project & Calc

All images copyright by AIDIASTUDIO

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