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Stage of the music school „RODOLFO MORALES“

In addition to the Music School "Rodolfo Morales" built in 2003, an open- air stage, an open kitchen and the surrounding garden was designed and completed in 2007.

Rodolfo Morales, the famous local painter was the initiator of the Music School and the 'Orchestra Infantil Rodolfo Morales'. After his death in 2001, the Fundactión Rodolfo Morales continued with his idea to create a space where the children of Ocotlan could learn and perform music as an important part of the local culture.

In 2003, students of the TU Berlin built two adobe buildings, a 80 m2 hall for rehearsals and a 40 m2 building with an office and smaller rooms for individual lessons.

In 2008, the stage and an outdoor kitchen completed the ensemble. The surrounding space was complemented with garden islands and shading structures. Now children and professionals can perform concerts on their own stage and fiestas can be celebrated. 

Both building sites where realised with the collaboration of architecture students of the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). Apart of a locksmith, cutting the structural steel elements, all construction work was done by the students.

The Fundacion Rodolfo Morales is now running the place and supporting the "Maestra de Musica" in teaching the children of the orchester.

During the two month of construction work, the students where accomodated on site in the adobe buildings. The Fundación Rodolfo Morales was commited to take over the biggest part of the material costs, and payed the lunch in a comedor in the local market. The families of the music students provided the other meals.


Images and Plans

Technical Description

Two overlaying grids form the basis of the spatial concept, harmonizing the old and the new part of the compound. The grids are articulated in the vertical space- building elements and the horizontal landscape modulation out of colored earths, beds and vegetation and pebble stone. The stage is located a the back of the compound. A platform made out of the local green limestone and red bricks, is shaded with a structure of metal cross pillars, wooden beams, corrugates iron sheets and a suspended ceiling out of 'carizo', a small local bamboo. The back forms an existing traditional adobe wall, emphasized by 'organos' a local spikeless cactus. The kitchen facilities, a traditional 'comal' are out of molded concrete and read brick.

The heavy rains of the rainseason can filter through a drainage structure into the ground.


February 2007 Start construction

Arrival with the students, tools and machines in the village. The site had to be cleared, the layout was traced, the workshops where installed and the project presented to the director, the Maestra and the parents of the musicschool children.First steps was to construct a drainage cage out of soft drink crates, chickenwire and fleece to allow the heavy rains beeing absorbed by the gound.

Earth and stone

Natural green lime stone, typical for the region, white and gray gravels and colored earths are the main building materials for the horizontal layers. The surface of the stage is made out of locally made bricks. The back of the compound forms an existing adobe wall that was reinforced and repaired and upgraded with a set of stingless cactus.

The stage

The steel columns are fixed in the ground with reinforcement cages and concrete foundations. The steel cross-columns where ensemble out of four triangular profiled steel bars. The wooden main beams are fabricated on the ground and located on top of the steel columns with the help of a crane.



The massive vertical kitchen elements were brick laid and partly casted in concrete. The traditional 'comal' was casted with his special openings and transported centimeter to centimeter to the final destination.


Carrizo is a cheep or for free availible local small bamboo, used traciionaly for fences.

It had to be harvested, cut, cleaned and fixed on the construction.

Inauguration April 2007

After 7 weeks of construction, the project was inaugurated with a concert of the "Orchestra Juvenil Rodolfo Morales" a string quartet, memelas and a big fiesta for the community of Ocotlan.

Richtfest- roofing ceremony

A typical German Carpenter tradition was delebrated after the first 5 constructtion weeks. A goat was cooked in a 'barbacoa', a traditional earth oven, a digged whole in the ground filled with hot stoned, palm leaves and the meat and covered with earth. The 'Richtbaum' was planted in the garden.


Revue 2009

Participants of the project took photos of the compound two years later.

The Foundation painted the naked concrete, we considered so elegant, in red and beige. The compound was in good conditions and well maintained, although the colored earths where covered with weed and grass.

Revue 2015

Eight years later, the compound is in lamentable conditions. The wooden structures are deteriorating, parts have been burned due to un uncontrolled fire-clearing, the original landscape gardening is unrecognizable, the kitchen is not used nor the stage for performing. The delicate carrizo fillings, that would need constant maintenance are falling apart or vanished. The adobe houses from 2003 are still in acceptable conditions and regular music-classes are given by the Maestra de Musica.



Unfortunately there is no organisation running the school and no resources to pay a minimum of maintenance. Apart of the teacher who is teaching basically in her free time, no one is taking care nor seems to be interested in developing a strategy for sustainably using the compound. The second building, although having a high architectural and spatial quality, seems to be more burden as benefit. The beautiful red coloured earthen ground is covered with weeds, as well due to missing filter fleece, avoiding the growth of plants.


And now?

At a diploma-course of the Casa de la Ciudad, a cultural foundation in Oaxaca, a workshop with 30 local professionals was held in order to develop a sustainable revenue strategy and to focus the profile of the music school and the compound. A huge potential was detected and many possibilities of generating an income for maintenance and development where discussed. A group of the participants will work on the next steps. 



The client/user as actor in public interest design is crucial for the success of a project architectural quality sadly seems to be secondary. If the client/user is not empowered to design an organisation-structure for the development of the project, financial sustainability and technical maintenance, the project is condemned to demise.





CoCoon - contextual construction et al. TU Berlin, Hochschule MünchenArchitecture, Landscape ArchitectureUrsula Hartig
Fundación Cultral Rodolfo Morales; Escuela de Música Rodolfo Morales Presidente Alberto Morales, Ocotlán de Morelos
TeachingTEK Tragwerksentwurf und Konstruktion,
Project ImplementationUNAM-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Students of the ATELIER MAX CETTO
FundingVFFA Freunde und Förderer der Architektur, TU Berlin;
Steel Worker, Adobe Producer (Local Craftsman)Students from the Atelier Max Cetto, UNAM (Local Student)3 as carpenters trained students (Craftsmen)
TravelDAAD, German Academic Exchange Service
Food, Accomodation, Materials, TransportFundación Cultural Rodolfo Morales


Architecture 25 Students


2007-2008: Compound ca. 1200 m2 Stage 50 m2 Kitchen 5 m2
In KindFood: Fundacion Morales and familymembers Coloured Earths Carizo Crane
Other BudgetBuilding Material from Fundacion Morales: ca.12.000 € Academic Exchange DAAD: ca. 4.000 € Donnations: ca 3.500 €
Project Start:2006
Year of Completion:2007
Documentation: 3 Month: film, exposition, book
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