Kithara Music Kiosk

Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
Foto © Jaime Navarro
TO Architects
Lizeth Rios, Úrsula Rebollar, Lena Arsenijevic
Armando Pelcastre
Landscape Design
Tonatiuh Martínez

The guitar is arguably the most popular instrument in the world. It is versatile, portable, accessible, intimate and democratic, reaching across socioeconomic and other societal fault lines to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. It might also be said that no instrument provides such a poetic metaphor for shared histories and cultural fluidity.
Kithara Project is a space for the guitar, it is a classroom but also a musical 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 construction and establish a residential area. Next to the local library, the community donated a plot for the Kithara Project.
We designed a rain harvesting masonry vault and a re-used wood stand that would find an acoustic balance between sound absorption and reverberation. The upper classroom of the construction is oriented towards Xaltocan 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.
Both walls and vault are made of different types of masonry donated by the community: red brick, cement blocks, volcanic stone and tezontle (red stone). Three local builders from Yuguelito were selected by our construction master to rise the building.
Kithara Music Kiosk is a Collective Space because it was born from collective efforts and it is dedicated to the community of Yuguelito. The project began with a group of guitar teachers arriving in the community in 2015 to offer free guitar lessons. In little time, this group gathered women, children, adults and elderly people that joined the lessons. In appreciation, the community democratically decided to donate a small plot of land for the Kithara Project in order to build a classroom. Matthew Rhode, project leader from Kithara foundation, called us to make the architectural project.
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. Labour was local too.
Nowadays Kithara Music Kiosk has surpassed its intended uses, and the community has used it for making different events like theater arts presentations, choir concerts and different types of social gatherings. It has a personal space scale but it definitely resonates as a collective space.

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