Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired / Taller de Arquitectura-Mauricio Rocha

© Luis Gordoa

The Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired was created as part of a program by the government to provide services to one of the most disadvantaged and highly-populated areas of the city; Iztapalapa is the district with the largest visually impaired population in the Mexican capital.

Architect: Taller de Arquitectura-Mauricio Rocha
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Project Team: Arturo Mera , Cristobal Pliego, María Elena Reyes, , Ivan Camacho, Iris Sosa, Jose Luis Acevedo, Victor Limón, Vanessa Loya, Juan Manuel Moreno, Francisco Manterola, Daniela Gallen, Erick Hernández, Francisco Ortiz
Landscape Architect: Jerónimo Hagerman
Furniture: Salvador Quiroz, Iluminación Lidxi Biaani
Estructura: Grupo Sai.
Contractor: Grupo Quart
Project Area: 8,500 sqm
Project Year: 2001
Photographs: Luis Gordoa

© Luis Gordoa

The 14,000 sqm complex is on corner plot bordered by two avenues. A blind wall encircles the complex on its four sides and acts as an acoustic barrier as well as a retaining wall/blank to hold the earth moved from neighboring wasteland areas. In contrast to the abstract exterior, the internal facade of the boundary wall creates banks that change shape, height, and orientation, thus creating various courtyards.


The floor plan, meanwhile, can be read as a series of filters which stretch out from the entrance in parallel strips. The first filter is the building that houses the administrative offices, cafeteria, and utility area. The second consists of two parallel lines of buildings organized symmetrically along a central plaza. These buildings contain a store, the “tifloteca-sonoteca” (a sound and touch gallery) and five arts and crafts workshops. The third filter has the classrooms facing the gardens and the most private courtyards. Perpendicular to the entrance, a series of double-height volumes house the library, gymnasium-auditorium, and swimming pool.

© Luis Gordoa

The buildings are rectangular prisms, based on concrete frames and flat roofs. Each group explores different spatial and structural relationships, making each space identifiable for the user and varying size, light intensity and weight of materials: concrete, tepetate bricks, steel, and glass.

© Luis Gordoa

The Center aims to enhance spatial perception, activating the five senses as experience and source of information. A water channel runs through the center of the plaza, so that the sound of the water guides users along their way. Horizontal and vertical lines in the concrete at hand height offer tactile clues to identify each building. Six types of fragrant plants and flowers in the perimeter gardens act as constant sensors to help orientate users within the complex.

© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa
© Luis Gordoa

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired / Taller de Arquitectura-Mauricio Rocha" 11 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • Why?

    It seems cruel to put a small “stream” in the middle of the courtyard for a center for visually impaired and blind. I know, why don’t we make it harder for them to cross to the other side!!! Might as well add some low hanging trees too!

    • Mahmut Ozkaynaklar

      I was actually just thinking about that. I guess they want them to stumble and fall down so they have less people to worry about. XD Its like an obstacle course, if you can survive that building, you can live anywhere!!!

      • bsb

        a case of architects trying to be way too artistic and forgetting that people actually need to use their buildings, in this case blind people!! o goodness….

  • word

    one would think that a building for the blind would yield some other kind of architecture…said another way, I wouldn’t know this project is impacted by any kind of exceptional program at all without being told

  • vee

    Usually love their work, but this time I see a lot of proportions and details that are completely amiss. The inspiration drawn from from Louis Kahn went a bit too far, and looks more like a very poor (not to say bad) copy of a series of his works (references to four Kahn’s projects spring to mind). Disappointing.