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Biblioteca Gabriel López Chiñas


Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, Mexico

November 2022


João Gabriel Boto de Matos Caeiro (Architect), Moises Cruz Jeronimo Ruiz (Architect)


Fulvio Carpuso (architect), Moises Cruz Jeronimo Ruiz (architect), Ivan Diaz Arellano (architect), Kengi Garcia (architect), Victor lopez (architect


Municipio de la heroica ciudad de juchitán de zaragoza oaxaca


Lizet Ortiz


RootStudio's reconstruction of the Gabriel López Chiñas Library sought to address diverse needs and aspirations within the project's objectives. The spatial program prioritized a multifunctional space to cater to the cultural, educational, and communal requirements of the community.

Architectonically, the project embraced a harmonious integration of historical vernacular architecture with contemporary sustainable design. The restoration of the original structure, including adobe walls and a tropical wood roof, respected the region's architectural traditions. The objective was not only to preserve the cultural heritage but also to incorporate innovative elements that contribute to the library's modern functionality.

Environmental sustainability was a key focus, utilizing reclaimed materials from earthquake debris, such as wood for carpentry and local earth for painting, aligning with the broader objective of reducing environmental impact. RootStudio implemented cross-ventilation strategies and the use of endemic materials, fostering a comfortable, eco-friendly environment.

The project's formal and spatial ingenuity lay in RootStudio's meticulous approach to consolidate the original layout while seamlessly integrating contemporary elements. The removal of earthquake-damaged additions paved the way for new spaces, including an auditorium, a computer room, and shaded outdoor areas, enhancing the library's versatility.

Socially, the objectives extended beyond physical reconstruction. RootStudio engaged in a collaborative effort with local volunteers and international contributors through the "Tequio" initiative, fostering community participation and skill-sharing. The project's reopening aimed to reignite community engagement with cultural spaces, emphasizing RootStudio's commitment to social responsibility.


The Gabriel López Chiñas Library, located in Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, occupies a pivotal role as a cultural haven within a community deeply rooted in its history and traditions. RootStudio's intervention in this public setting involved meticulous consideration of the site's physical, socioeconomic, and cultural context.

Situated in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the library emerged as a response to the urgent need for cultural spaces following the devastating 2017 earthquake. The seismic event not only led to the closure of numerous public spaces but also prompted the preservation of local heritage. The library's original structure, with adobe walls and a distinctive tropical wood roof, reflects the traditional architecture of the area and holds cultural significance.

The socioeconomic context played a crucial role in shaping the project. Juchitán, having faced the closure of 90% of cultural sites post-earthquake, required a multifaceted approach. RootStudio's design not only restored the physical structure but also integrated sustainable features. The use of reclaimed materials, such as wood from the earthquake debris, not only aligned with the project's environmental goals but also engaged the local community in the rebuilding process.

The political dimension involved collaboration with the local government and institutions, showcasing a commitment to social responsibility. The library's reopening, made possible through the altruistic efforts of RootStudio and funding from the Alfredo Harp Helú Oaxaca Foundation, emphasizes the project's dedication to community well-being.
Against the backdrop of the Isthmus's unique climate, RootStudio implemented sustainable practices like cross-ventilation and the use of local materials, contributing to a comfortable and eco-friendly space.


The Gabriel López Chiñas Library, post-reconstruction by RootStudio, has proven to be a resounding success in meeting and exceeding expectations. The multifunctional space, designed for cultural and community activities, has become a vibrant hub for various events, including classes, workshops, concerts, and exhibitions. The library's seven-day-a-week accessibility has significantly contributed to revitalizing cultural life in Juchitán.

The performance of the project is noteworthy in environmental sustainability. The implementation of sustainable building methods and the use of reclaimed materials not only align with RootStudio's commitment to responsible architecture but also contribute to a reduced environmental footprint. The emphasis on cross-ventilation and the use of local, eco-friendly materials has created a comfortable and energy-efficient interior, exceeding initial environmental performance expectations.

Unexpected benefits have emerged from the project's emphasis on community engagement. The collaborative efforts during the reconstruction, involving local volunteers and international contributors, have fostered a sense of ownership and pride among the community. The library has become a symbol of resilience and unity, contributing to the social fabric of Juchitán.

RootStudio's design concept, integrating historical elements with contemporary functionality, has added significant value to both users and the surrounding community. The library now serves as a dynamic space that respects local traditions while providing a platform for modern cultural expression. The success of this project has set a standard for future cultural and community-oriented constructions, reflecting RootStudio's impact on the cultural and architectural landscape of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

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