La Ribera Center for Culture and Arts / ATELIER ARS

Architects: ATELIER ARS
Area: 33,370 square feet (3,100 square meters)
Year: 2022
Photography: César Béjar
Manufacturers: Hermman Luxe, Ladrillera Mecanizada, MOOMA Mosaicos
Proposal Authors: Alejandro Guerrero, Andrea Soto
Project Leader: Isabel Castiello
Team: Roberto González, Inés Plasencia, Diego Orduño
Client: Secretaría de Cultura del Estado de Jalisco
Construction: SIOP. Secretaría de Infraestructura y Obra Pública
Landscaping Designer: ATELIER ARS
City: Ajijic, Jalisco
Country: Mexico

In 2022, the Culture Ministry of the State of Jalisco initiated an architectural intervention on the existing auditorium at Lake Chapala, expanding it into a cultural center to support the Cardinal Culture program. This initiative aims to decentralize and disseminate culture across Jalisco through various cultural complexes. Situated on the shores of Mexico’s largest lake, the project is not only a response to a governmental call but also a homage to the local Wixárika culture, incorporating its myths and historical narratives into the design. This expansion includes a new library, a multi-functional building for music and dance, and an outdoor amphitheater, weaving together the old and the new while fostering a strong sense of community and place.

La ribera center for culture and arts/atelier ars

The State of Jalisco’s Culture Ministry commissioned the expansion of an existing auditorium into a cultural center as part of the Cardinal Culture program. The center is strategically placed on the shore of Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico, known for its substantial foreign settlement and agreeable living conditions. The design aimed to reflect the cultural heritage of the site.

Exploring the ancient Wixárika culture, significant in the area, the project delves into the myths associated with the site’s natural and cultural history. The Lake Chapala area, transformed by volcanic activity from a Pacific fjord, is enriched with a unique ecological identity, shaping the foundational cultures of the region. These pre-Hispanic myths, including tales of a goddess transforming the landscape, are subtly narrated within the landscape design of the project.

The cultural center’s design repurposes an existing 400-seat auditorium and an office building, preserving and integrating these structures into the new complex. The auditorium’s notable brick vaults were maintained as a key architectural element. New constructions, including a library facing the main avenue and a longitudinal service building housing music and dance facilities along with an outdoor amphitheater, were added. These elements are crafted from local clay to maintain architectural coherence and support regional artisanal practices. The overall layout of the new buildings promotes a sense of enclosure and continuity with the existing urban fabric.

In essence, the project respects and revitalizes the existing built environment while introducing new functions that align with the community’s cultural and educational aspirations.

La ribera center for culture and arts/atelier ars
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Carretera a Chapala-Jocotepec 168, Col. La Floresta, Ajijic, Jal., Mexico

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