Oaxaca's Historical Archive Building
Ignacio Mendaro Corsini
Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
PROESI S.C. (Structural Engineer) Fundación Harp Helú (Promoter) Pina Hamilton (Garden Designer)
Fundación Harp Helú
Ignacio Mendaro Corsini
The project directive was to build a functional archive. However that alone is always very poor. The intention was also to introduce emotion to the spaces created, and never allow the building to become a white elephant in the middle of a park. The Archive’s main function is to store, file and protect the immense amount of documents (sixteen linear kilometers). Hence it’s pathways condition the building’s architecture. The document must reach the vault after a very complex control. It needs to be analyzed, selected and catalogued for its proper restoration. The building needs to satisfy the necessities of a little more than a hundred people who are working on these processes. But it also needs to satisfy and serve the people of Oaxaca. The building is conceived as a succession of courtyards where the main trees in this part of the park stand. The patios become an extension of the park, giving the user access to the auditorium, library, cafeteria, exhibitions…etc. This public thread intermingles with the Archive’s course without interfering in its performance. The whole building is built in an earthy colored apparent concrete, made from soil from these lands. An exhaustive hydraulic research was carried out to recover and channel all the rainwater towards the pools (formed from the quarry) and filter them in its way to make them clean. The movement of water becomes protagonist in the conception of the new Park and the Archive.
The impetus behind the project was to provide dignity to Oaxaca’s historical documents. The archive back then was a repository in very poor conditions. The files were deteriorating due to humidity and living organisms, and it was disorganized and stirred. Despite this, the collection of documents made Mexico’s second largest Archive. Oaxaca is cultural and historically rich; some of them pre-Columbian codices and they were at the brink of being lost. It became clear the situation was unacceptable. The ADABI Foundation took hold of the situation and formed a team of 50 experts to recover the documents: fumigate, brush.. and catalog. Following the International Archivist rules, five documentary series we obtained; Government, Treasury, Civil Registry, Justice and Militia. As of 2010, it was possible to complete a definite inventory with 2066 books and files. Digitalization of 78% of the archive was carried out, and a restoration and binding project started. The State Government understood the necessity of creating an adequate building to host Oaxaca’s Historical archives. It granted 13.5 acres of land in the heart of the capital called The Quarry Park. A used up quarry of Oaxaca’s green stone in a slightly marginal neighborhood. The Harp Helú Foundation adjudicated the project to Ignacio Mendaro Corsini, a Spanish architect with proven experience in the design and construction of historical archives. The architect moved to Oaxaca for five years and transformed the Quarry Park into a cultural, leisure and sportive complex.
The building commission also came with the assignment to redo the Quarry Park. A Master Plan for the 13.5 acre site was presented and various other projects introduced in the site. Amongst them were sport and medical facilities, running tracks or a small outdoor theatre. The built Historical Archive has become a magnet for cultural events. In the course of the works of the Archive, the decision was made to introduce the Convention and Fairground Center and Oaxaca’s Business Center into the Quarry Park’s Master Plan. Both these projects are of significant importance and are being carried out now. The expectations of reactivating the degraded neighborhood are now more than fulfilled. Currently, the Historical Archive is fulfills its function, as do the rest of the facilities. It works both in itself and within it’s surroundings like a Möbius band; it’s circulations flowing between spaces in natural transitions.