The Casa de la Cultura de Tlalpan is just one of the things that makes a trip to the Bosque de Tlalpan such a treat. It’s a resurrected historical building that today puts a remarkable face on one of the liveliest cultural centers in the south of the City. Today home to the Young Orchestra of Tlalpan, the center also hosts a lively art gallery, an auditorium that’s filled with just about 120 people on most nights and a floor devoted to art classrooms and workshops.
Originally the design of the engineer, Alberto J. Pani (uncle of the architect Mario Pani), the building was constructed at the intersection of Avenida Michoacán and today’s Patriotismo. That’s the present-day Plaza de los Compositores in the Condesa neighborhood. The building was part of a modernization project for the entire city’s water supply. In appearance, it might remind you a little of the work of the contemporary hydrological engineer also designing buildings at the time, Miguel Angel de Queveda. Essentially a public pump-house, it served as such from just 1907 until 1940.
The impressive building stood empty and unused for 35 years. Finally, in 1975, the parts were disassembled and moved to the edge of Bosque de Tlalpan park. They were then stored for another nine years in the forest and in 1986, the first stone was laid, again. The new project, for the Casa de la Cultura de Tlalpan was directed by the acclaimed architect, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. You can see his much more Modernist approach in the rear sections of the building.
The façade of the old Casa de las Bombas is carved chiluca stone. It’s decorated with aquatic motifs that include turtles, snakes, snails and tritons, and a statue of Neptune was placed in the oversized central niche. This was unfortunately lost.
The Casa de la Cultura de Tlalpan is a favorite at the entrance to the Tlalpan Forest. It’s also the Sunday host of the popular Tlalpan Alternative Market. For those not walking into the Forest, the Crea Furniture Market also makes a curious nearby visit, even if you’re not in the market for furniture. Between the House of Culture and the furniture market is an ancient pyramid site, part of the not too distant ancient Cuicuilco complex.