RootStudio transforms convent into Oaxaca Gastronomic Center

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RootStudio, an architecture firm, has transformed a historic convent building in Oaxaca, Mexico into the Centro Gastronómico de Oaxaca, a center that celebrates the culinary heritage of the region. The colonial-style structure, dating back to the 16th century, has been carefully restored to create an immersive experience that showcases culinary traditions and sustainability. The cultural center incorporates various areas and functions, including a study center, restaurant, kitchen, tasting rooms, gallery, cafeteria, auditorium, and retail spaces. The restoration work was carried out in compliance with guidelines from the Oaxaca division of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, with the focus on preserving primary features and the original layout. A team of over 20 designers and supervisors from local institutes participated in the project. In the process of restoring the building, several discoveries were made, including an 18th-century sewer that has now been repurposed for mezcal tastings. The team also uncovered a diagonal window similar to one in another convent in Mexico City. Traditional construction techniques and materials such as lime, brick, wood, and Oaxacan Cantera verde stone were used for the restoration, ensuring the preservation of the building’s materiality and typology. Extensive restoration was also carried out on the exterior of the building and the surrounding landscape, with the incorporation of edible and cooking-associated plant species. The former goods handling yard was transformed into spaces for outdoor events, and a contemporary steel element was added to contrast with the historic building. This addition houses industrial kitchens, commercial spaces, and a flexible event space with panoramic views. The cultural center also features collaborations with local artists and artisans, including a mural and imagery that represent the region’s corn species and the building’s varied functions. Accessibility was prioritized in the new addition, with multiple elevators installed. RootStudio is known for its sustainable approach, and the Centro Gastronómico de Oaxaca reflects its commitment to creating environmentally conscious spaces. The project has been longlisted for the 2023 Dezeen Awards in the Heritage Project category.

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