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San Pablo: Cultural and Academic Center in the heart of Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a place full of emblematic places and one that can not be missed is the former convent of Santo Domingo de Soriano, the first Dominican convent in Oaxaca, today known as the San Pablo Cultural Center that opened its doors on November 26, 2011.  Image by ProtoplasmaKid.

Oaxaca is a place full of emblematic places and one that can not be missed is the former convent of Santo Domingo de Soriano, the first Dominican convent in Oaxaca, today known as the San Pablo Cultural Center that opened its doors on November 26, 2011. This place is the headquarters of the Harp Helú Oaxaca Foundation and is intended as a place for culture and the arts. 

To give life to this project, the Architecture Workshop of the Casa de la Ciudad and the architect Mauricio Rocha, carried out the intervention to rescue this property, turning it into a space of benefit for the community. This intervention faced several challenges such as the removal of floors and walls that overload the structure of the building. When reaching the design stage of the enclosure, the different architectural languages of the place had to be reconciled, taking into account the academic and cultural use for which the vision of the project had been projected. 

Mauricio Rocha decided to use bolted wooden and metal structures, also approved by INAH, to create a “clean” space. Rocha says the request of FAHHO’s president, art historian Maria Isabel Grenin-Poria, was to design a cultural space that could serve as a publicly accessible library and school for indigenous languages.

Without a doubt, the development of this project was complex, since a street had to be drawn. Before starting, thorough historical and archaeological investigations had to be carried out, which were supervised by INAH. 

Among the requests that had to be taken into account, was the request of the president of the Harp Helú Foundation (FAHHO), the art historian María Isabel Grañén Porrua, to design a cultural space that would have a library that was open to the public and a school of indigenous languages. The challenge? Preserve the spirit of what had previously been a cloister by carrying out a contemporary remodeling. In the words of the architect Barragán:

“It was respected “the spirit of the cloister: a building that is collected to a patio, a courtyard that has a window, as Barragán said, that opens to the sky”

What is the social contribution of the San Pablo Cultural Center in the heart of Oaxaca?

The project for the remodeling of the San Pablo Cultural Center has several achievements: the rescue of a convent that was hidden to be appreciated by the people of Oaxaca (and the world).

To achieve that this heritage space became a public place by managing to combine a center of culture and academics.

But above all, that it was a place for social interaction and thought to develop in benefit and joy mainly for Oaxacans.

It should be noted that within the conditions of restoration it was essential to rescue the rescue of a passage that is located perpendicularly from Independencia Street to Hidalgo, to allow access to the atrium of the church.

A space with an environmental culture

For those who created this space, culture and art are linked to sustainable development; from the environmental and economic points of view. Keeping this in mind, the Cultural Center of San Pablo was remodeled to include rainwater harvesting systems and solar photocells.

What can you find at the San Pablo Cultural Center?

Today, San Pablo Cultural Center, is the Juan de Córdova Research Library. It houses services and academic collections to promote the cultural heritage of Oaxaca and the rest of the country.

You can also be fascinated by the concerts and exhibitions that take place about Oaxacan culture in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Its gallery offers a spectacular architectural aesthetic. It has a large textile exhibition that covers all regions of the territory.

And after making the tour of all its corners, you can enjoy the delicious coffee of the region and its food in the central courtyard of the enclosure.


Hidalgo No. 907
Old Alley of San Pablo
Historic Center
C.P. 68000,
Oaxaca, Oax.

01 (951) 501 8800

Location of Cultural Center of San Pablo

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