Sometimes architecture is about much more than the materials and design of a building. This is the case for Pabellón Centro de Cultura Ambiental (CCA), a facility with the goal of increasing society’s environmental awareness. Designed by Taller de Arquitectura, CCA stands as a model for urban planning that incorporates culture, history, economy and the needs of both the community and the environment

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A model of a pavilion and building structure

The pavilion acts as a cultural hub for Mexico City, with spaces for museum-like displays, multi-purpose activities and community gatherings. The structure was built upon a low-CO2 concrete slab and relies on vertical steel beams combined with oxidized basalt walls for support. 

Related: Nearly all of the German Pavilion is recyclable

An open architecture with a pond in front of it

While the structural elements are anchored in green design, the surrounding gardens are where the project really shines. Carefully planned to provide environmental education and an understanding of the region’s ethnobotany, the gardens are grouped to highlight different contributions the plants offer. One area focuses on traditional edible plants while other areas put the spotlight on toxic, medical and religious varieties. Some species are also used in conjunction with the construction of the building, resulting in a green roof and a campus of trees. 

A circular pond surrounded by a walkway, trees and bushes

Pathways encourage visitors to meander through the gardens, taking in an understanding of the biocultural history of the chosen species. Basalt stone rings outline viewpoints, where visitors can digest the presentation of seven different ecosystems. These gardens follow the natural contours of the land while honoring cultural heritage related to circles and pyramids. 

Two people huddled underneath an umbrella beside a wall and an open walkway

Moreover, to maximize conservation, an irrigation system relies on gravity to transport water between the platforms. Rainwater harvesting hydrates plants on the rooftop garden and excess water at the end of the line is returned to the subsoil through a natural wetland filtering process. 

A desert garden in front of a building

“CCA is a space providing conditions that allow visitors to enjoy its biodiversity, while raising awareness of the current climate change situation, and sharing knowledge of existing tools designed to stop and reverse it,” said A-001 Taller de Arquitectura.

+ A-001 Taller de Arquitectura

Images via A-001 Taller de Arquitectura, Isaac Uribe and Jorge Yáñez