This education center for Mexico's Institute of the National Housing Fund for Workers (INFONAVIT) serves as the administrative heart and entry point for a nine-acre master plan of low-income housing prototypes for Apan, Mexico. Built with expansion in mind, the 32 prototypes solicited by INFONAVIT's Center for Research for Sustainable Development (CIDS) varyingly rethink the fundamentals of spatial organization, environment, construction, and material. These prototypes, circular planters for gardening, a brick water tower for on-site water storage, and playgrounds for residents and the wider community are all informally arranged across the sloped site to produce a variety of spaces through an economy of elements. Permeable paving and local ground cover demonstrate an easily replicable model for developing the surrounding terrain while maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the success of on-site cultivation. Careful attention to prevailing, local masonry trades and available material allows the construction of various elements to be produced in a custom, locally produced ceramic block. The 12,500-square-foot, ceramic block Education Center sits at the top of this slope. It is both open to the local context and a place to survey the prototypes downslope. A limited palette of materials and economical forms unify the various spaces and distinguish the building within the neighborhood. Tasked with accepting large groups, educating students, and providing short-term workspaces the building includes: offices, reading rooms, galleries, a café, classrooms, and workshops. Four open-air courtyards separate the programs while allowing movement and visual access across and through the structure. The entire building will be covered with a lush green roof that both helps to insulate the building and provide a further connection with the surrounding landscape.


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