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Capilla Musical Kithara


Yuguelito, Iztapalapa, Mexico City, Mexico

March 2022


Jose Amozurrutia (Co-Lead Designer), Carlos Facio (Co-Lead Designer)


Armando Pelcastre Villafuerte (Structural Engineer), Tonatiuh Martínez (Landscape Designer), Erik Estrada (MEPF Engineer), Enrique Lomnitz (Rainwater Harvesting), Alberto Herrera (Models


Matthew Rhode


Jaime Navarro


The goals of the project were: to build a low-budget construction based on local materials, local labor and the needs and desires of the community; experimenting with a constructive system based on mixing recycled rubble and donated materials, to give an example of circular economy in construction in Mexico City and a low CO2 footprint construction; creating a vault, that would find an acoustic balance between sound absorption and reverberation.

The upper classroom of the construction is oriented towards Xaltepec Volcano, a significant geographical reference in Iztapalapa, whereas the ground floor classroom is tilted towards the corner of two streets, in order to open up to the city, holding public events for larger audiences. There is a third smaller classroom in the ground floor, for one-to-one private guitar lessons.

Both walls and vault are made of different types of recycled masonry, reclaimed from other construction´s rubble or donated by the community: red brick, cement blocks, volcanic stone and tezontle (red stone). The wooden stand is made with the same local pine tree wood that was used for making the framework for the vault. Three local builders from Yuguelito were selected to rise the building.

The vault harvests rain to get water for a bathroom within the building and watering plants. The endemic vegetation was strategically chosen to adapt to the dry environment of Iztapalapa -one of the driest areas of Mexico City.


Kithara Music Chapel is a space for the guitar, it is a classroom but also a public kiosk in a marginal area of Mexico City called Yuguelito, which is located in Iztapalapa, a conflictive area due to the levels of violence, the quality of the soil and water scarcity. Yuguelito is standing on land that was a rubble dump from the 1985 earthquake. The community worked to improve the soil for housing construction and established a residential area. Since 2015, Kithara Foundation teaches guitar freely for the community and in 2017 the community donated a small plot for them. A few months later, they invited us to work on the architectural project for their classroom.

As a first step, a collective workshop was made with the community and the guitar students, we asked them to draw their ideal music school. Based upon those drawings we made the architectural program. Later, a proposed project was presented for the community with drawings and models and further observations were considered. With the approved project, it took over 5 years and many collective efforts to achieve the funding for the construction. Finally, the design strategy incorporated a collective spirit, because it proposed that all materials for the construction should be either recycled or donated by the community. Labor was local too.


Kithara Music Chapel has surpassed its intended uses as a guitar classroom, the community has used it for making cultural events like theater arts presentations, choir concerts, social gatherings and daily sightseeing, providing a sense of belonging to their neighborhood. There are at least two collective concerts from the community to the community per year, plus a number of concerts of external invited musicians, from classic guitar players to collective choirs and diverse musical presentations.

Due to the success of Kithara in Yuguelito, they have now opened a new Luthier workshop for children to learn how to build their own guitars, which is becoming a unique experience. Since Kithara Music Chapel is open, some visitors from the national and international community have come, generating a new relationship between Yuguelito neighborhood and its context.

Among the challenges of the space, since the upper classroom is open to the public as a kiosk we have been asked to think about ways of enclosing the space at some hours. We are currently working on such design and on finding more funds in order to improve the public space and the streets around it.

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