Faro de Oriente: Social community project

The cultural centre “Fábrica de Artes y Oficios” is located in the Iztapalapa, one of the poorest areas of Mexico City. More than 80% of its almost 2 million inhabitants live in extreme poverty. An impressive concrete building designed by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach is a haven in the midst of neglect.

The Faro de Oriente project by Mexico City’s Culture Department provides an alternative solution to conventional cultural intervention. Its goal is to create a diverse cultural impact and provide access and training to marginal populations – provided physically, economically and symbolically by Mexico City’s acclaimed cultural resources. It is a combination of an art school, a cultural space, and a public plaza. Through these elements it creates a new idea of cultural development where accessibility integrates to the everyday life of the citizens.

FARO (Spanish for lighthouse) stands for Fábrica de Artes y Oficios, the English equivalent to Factory for Arts and Crafts. This centre registers 1300 participants in alternative educational activities 6 days/week. FARO is located in the municipality of Iztapalapa, at the DF’s east side. As it has been said at the beginning, the neighbourhood counts with more than 3 million inhabitants, many of them in-land migrants, with little or no access to high education.

The space  has been running for 10 years, June 2010 is the time when they celebrate their anniversary. It counts with three buildings and a fairly large open space surrounding it. The central building hosts the administration, the workshops for fashion design, printing fabrics, paper sculpture, the community lunch room, the library,  the computer clubhouse, meeting rooms for the radio and TV teams, a small gym for the yoga and dance courses, and a daycare. There is a small building where the residents stay with a fully equipped kitchen, and bed space for up to 7 people. The last building includes the carpentry,  a storage space, and the metal workshop.

The whole place is ran co-financed by different sources: the municipality, the Spanish Culture Centre in Mexico, the French Culture Centre and the Intel’s Computer  Clubhouse Village program. On top of that, many smaller actors donate equipment to make things happen.

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