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La Carmela Centro Cultural


Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

November 2022


ANA ISABEL RUIZ REMOLINA (Design leader, project coordinator)


Sergio Carlos Soto Cisneros (Co-designer), Jimena González-Sicilia Ibarrola (Co-designer), Daniela Mendoza Calleja (Architecture design team), Jimena Karina Robles Pardo (Landscape design team)


SEDATU - Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development, Mexico


Andrés Cedillo


The project embarks on a multifaceted exploration, weaving together the threads of industrial heritage, nature-based solutions, and social equity to breathe new life into Puebla's former textile industries legacy. At its core, the restoration of the existing buildings serves as a testament to our commitment to preserving the memory and identity of this historic site.
Central to our vision is the reimagining of the former water runoff as a narrative thread, guiding visitors through an immersive journey into the site's rich history. Floating walkways gracefully envelop the heritage buildings, transforming the Carmela plant into an open-air museum.
Our intervention extends beyond mere restoration, embracing a diverse architectural program designed to cater to the needs of a broad spectrum of users. With a keen awareness of the community's needs, we have crafted a facility that transcends scales, from regional cultural hub to intimate local gathering space.
The transformation of the immediate surroundings reflects our holistic approach to design. A formwork tunnel now traces the path of the once-exposed wastewater canal, seamlessly integrating blue and green infrastructure into the fabric of the site. Salvaged elements, such as pipe support blocks and tunnels, find new life as integral components of the pedestrian circulation network.
Through our intervention, we have woven together four distinct lines of action: heritage restoration, blue-green infrastructure, architectural intervention, and urban revitalization. The result is not merely a project but a vibrant cultural complex that stands as a testament to the enduring power of thoughtful design and community stewardship.


La Carmela Cultural Center is a meticulous restoration and repurposing effort, centered around the historic industrial complex of the former hydroelectric plant that was established in 1906. Nestled at the base of the Atoyac River, this initiative seeks to transform the site and its environs into a vibrant cultural nucleus and green oasis.
Abandoned since the closure of the plant in 1956, the site bore witness to neglect, yet retained two key features: the imposing heritage buildings of the hydroelectric plant and the ailing water infrastructure that once served the city of Puebla, which stood as a testament to its rich history. Amidst the decay, an open-air wastewater canal dissected the northern expanse, acting as a tangible barrier to pedestrian movement. Meanwhile, the southern boundary was defined by the Atoyac River, where excess water from a nearby treatment plant met the riverbank, marking half of the plot as flood-prone terrain.
Surrounding La Carmela, an informal settlement gradually took shape, now in the process of formalization and integration into the urban fabric. Despite this evolution, the area still grapples with deficiencies in basic services and urban infrastructure, underscoring the significance of La Carmela as the sole open green space in the area.
Through meticulous planning and restoration efforts, La Carmela Cultural Center emerges not only as a landmark of historical preservation but also as a catalyst for community revitalization and sustainable urban development, promising to breathe new life into both the physical landscape and the social fabric of the region.


The project's transformative impact on its surroundings is nothing short of inspirational. By reimagining water management as a catalyst for community connection, the project has not only revitalized neglected spaces but also redefined what it means to live in harmony with nature. The creation of a vibrant linear park, complete with recreational areas and lush vegetation, has not only cleansed the environment but has also breathed new life into the community, fostering relationships and instilling a sense of pride. Through innovative design solutions, such as the incorporation of diverse local flora and the careful management of seasonal landscapes, the project has become a beacon of environmental stewardship, showcasing the power of nature-based solutions in urban planning. Moreover, by prioritizing pedestrian infrastructure and promoting mixed-use development, the project has become a catalyst for economic growth and social empowerment, providing residents with access to essential services and educational opportunities. In doing so, it has not only met but surpassed expectations, serving as a testament to the transformative potential of architecture and urban planning in creating sustainable, inclusive, and thriving communities for generations to come.

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