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Niños Conarte

Niños Conarte, a children’s library in a landmark space that was previously a steelworks. Led by staff architect Andrea Benavides, the designers created a colorful environment for reading, learning and play that echoes Monterrey’s mountainous topography.

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-01-Entrance-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Entrance – © Caroga

Getting the commission from the State of Nueva León’s Council of Culture and Arts shows just how prescient the partners were in positioning Anagrama to serve a region that’s under going a dual transformation: there is modernization, booming industry and traffic, but also a return to Mexican roots that is getting people out of their cars and into green spaces, back to enjoying nature and each other’s company.

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-03-Reading-platform-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Reading platform – © Caroga

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-04-Reading-platform-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Reading platform – © Caroga

“The city was built around the automobile, but the local government is developing alternative transportation modes and encouraging more use of parks and sidewalks as a way for people to feel more integrated with the city—allowing them to meet, collaborate and be friendlier,” – Muñoz says.

“There are projects like closing a main street on Sundays so outstanding feature is the dance studio next door. “Moms drop off and pick up their kids all day long, and a crazy momhonking frenzy happens at 6:00 p.m.,” reports Muñoz. “When we first moved here, I hated that. But now I think of it as an indicator that it’s almost time to go home to be with my own family.”

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-05-Reading-platform-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Reading platform – © Caroga

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-06-Reading-platform-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Reading platform – © Caroga

Design Features:

  • The “mountains” are asymmetrical shelves covered in grey artificial grass. The color scheme makes use of primary colors with a neon twist to engage the children while complementing the industrial environs. Interior colors are replicated in the logo for a coherent theme.
  • The space is intended to bring about the feeling of being surrounded by books, with tall shelves lining one wall. Approximately 4,300 titles are available to enjoy and share on-site but are not loaned. Selected by Conarte’s cultural development manager, a book editor, they cover a range of reading and age levels.
  • Anagrama designed the theater and art room with a more functional focus than the whimsical reading room. Design elements extend into the auditorium, with neon-red beams and blue pipes. Suspended tube lights illuminate the space while still revealing the historic framework of the building.
Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-07-Cultural-center-and-theater-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Cultural center and theater – © Caroga

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-08-Stage-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Stage – © Caroga


Monterrey, the third largest city in Mexico, is best known for its beautiful mountains and strong industrial backbone. In the heart of the city is Fundidora Park, a unique specimen of industrial archaeology (it was previously a massive steelworks and foundry established in 1900). The park is home to extensive gardens, museums, convention centers, auditoriums, theme parks and cultural venues such as Conarte (Council for the Culture and Arts of Nuevo León).

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-09-Neon-painted-roof-beams-and-stage-detail-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Neon painted roof beams and stage detail – © Caroga

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-10-Neon-painted-roof-beams-Caroga-759x475 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Neon painted roof beams – © Caroga

Conarte reached out to Anagrama with the mission to create a space that would foster a love of reading and learning for children. The children’s library and cultural center was to be inside a warehouse-like building, an untouchable heritage site of the state. Our design proposal needed to take into account the untouchable nature of the building and, in some way, enhance it.

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-11-Neon-painted-roof-beams-Caroga-759x506 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Neon painted roof beams – © Caroga

The result is a multi-purpose, asymmetrical reading platform meant to simulate Monterrey’s mountainous topography. The bookshelves are not only used as storage, but serve as a dynamic space to play and learn, to fire the imagination and provide comfort while reading. The installation’s colorful and geometric aesthetic contrasts directly with its antique, industrial building, elevating both elements in a cheerful and unique way.

Ninos-Conarte-By-Anagrama-15-public-domain-759x569 Niños Conarte / Anagrama

Niños Conarte – © public domain

Project Data:

Project name: Niños Conarte
Location: Avenida Fundidora y Adolfo Prieto S/N, Obrera, 64010 Monterrey, NL, Mexico
Coordinates: 25.677118, -100.283761
Type: Library Interior
Project Year: 2013
Project Area: 1,025 sqm
Status: Completed
Completion Date: July 2, 2013


  • 2014 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories – Category: Libraries – Popular Choice Winner & Jury Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Conarte
Interior Designer: Anagrama – Guillermo Prieto #400, Colonia San Pedro, Zip Code 66230, San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, México
Text Description: © Courtesy of Anagrama, lj.libraryjournal
Images: © Caroga, Conarte

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Niños Conarte / Anagrama
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