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PILARES Quetzalcóatl


Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

February 2023


Saidee Springall (Lead Designer), Jose Castillo (Lead Designer)


Iván Cervantes (Design Team), Facundo Savid (Design Team), Gerardo Hernández (Design Team), Karla García (Design Team), Janisse Cruz (Landscape Design


Mexico City Government


Sandra Pereznieto


The project is divided into two blocks of different scales where classrooms, workshops, and other services are distributed. Both volumes are set on a triangular footprint at opposite ends of the site, framing a diagonal void that contains a landscaped courtyard. In terms of construction, the buildings are articulated through a metal structure, providing programmatic flexibility and horizontal communication throughout their entire length.

The northern building, the larger of the two, features a roof with irregular triangular planes that reduce in height as the space narrows. Instead of opting for a conventional solution with regular frames, the structural proposal provides the project with dynamic spatial quality for conducting activities. The southern building, the smaller of the two, resolves its roof with a single plane while integrating a tower to frame the entrance.

The facades of the complex are composed of two horizontal strips of different materials. A low brick perimeter wall is followed by a covering of sheet metal mounted on the structural frames, with windows interspersed. This approach gives the complex a semi-industrial character facing the exterior, creating a dialogue with its urban surroundings, and inviting the community to take ownership of the project.


PILARES is an initiative for the creation of community spaces driven by the government of Mexico City. The main objective is to provide free educational and cultural infrastructure to marginalized areas, aiming to restore the social and urban fabric at a neighborhood level. In this context, the project for PILARES Quetzacóatl is in the Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl neighborhood in the Iztapalapa borough, an area facing both social and environmental challenges that require specific and planned actions to address the historical backlog it has experienced.

The strategy begins with the recovery of a residual plot to design a new building capable of hosting multiple programs and activities within a structure that aligns with the material constraints of its surroundings. It aims to be efficient in construction and adhere to the established budgetary limitations.


The PILARES Quetzalcóatl project was built within one of the smallest but most dangerous neighborhoods in Mexico City, with just over 70,000 residents distributed across 467 blocks. The area faced challenges such as the presence of gangs, high drug consumption, school violence, teenage pregnancies, homicides, high crime rates, and a lack of facilities such as libraries, parks, and cultural centers.

In 2015, after a long period, a public park with various amenities was inaugurated, bringing about a change in the community and paving the way for the emergence of spaces capable of hosting different types of activities, including educational and cultural ones. Our PILARES Quetzalcóatl project partly arises from this initiative driven by the government of Mexico City, which facilitated the introduction of more spaces of this kind into this neighborhood.

PILARES Quetzalcóatl is more than a community center; it is an educational center that teaches the population, at no cost, how to strengthen their economic autonomy, the dangers of illicit substances, and the importance of education for both children and adults. A few meters from this center, there are four schools, two churches, a health center, and other parks that have opened, and crimes in the surrounding areas have decreased as much as possible. While some consider this neighborhood the most dangerous in Mexico City, approaching these spaces suggests otherwise.

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