LocationLittle VillageBuilt2023ClientYollocalli Arts Reach, National Museum of Mexican Art

“Jardin Malinalli transformed into a green space where residents could just enjoy a cup of coffee and take in the health benefits of being surrounded by plants and art”

- Vanessa Sanchez, Yollocalli Director


Jardin Malinalli is a vibrant community garden in Little Village spearheaded by the Yollocalli Arts Reach youth initiative. Since 2018, Yollocalli has worked tirelessly with the community and local artists to create a beautiful green space in the neighborhood. What began as a vacant lot has transformed into an inviting outdoor haven, celebrating Latin culture through murals, permaculture, native plantings, and diverse programs like street art, journalism, dance, and Villapalooza, a local music festival.

Seeking to enhance and expand their programming, we’ve collaborated with Yollocalli since 2021 to collaboratively develop a site plan with the input of the community and the hands-on involvement of local youth.

In the summer of 2023, we partnered with Yollocalli to develop the youth program called Envisioning Community Spaces. Over three semesters, we introduced students to the world of architecture, encouraging their active involvement in designing Jardin Malinalli. This immersive experience empowered the youth to provide valuable feedback on the design while offering them hands-on opportunities to design and build moveable components for the garden.


  • Create an accessible stage and deck that is geared towards musical events and community activities
  • Repurpose existing materials and increase biodiversity through native plants
  • Support existing workshops and programs by providing flexible elements such as tables, moveable seating, and art display areas
  • Provide two shipping containers with interior buildouts for outdoor programming


Named after the Nahuatl word “malinalli,” translating to “tall grass” and associated with medicine, healing and fertility in the Aztec Calendar, the garden reflects a spirit of rejuvenation and perseverance.

Nestled in a dense, residential area, Malinalli stands as the sole green space within a 8-block radius, offering the community a secure gathering area, enhanced biodiversity, and a network of thriving community organizations.






  • Platform deck for performances and community activities
  • Shipping containers for storage and outdoor workshops
  • Colorful pergola adorned with patterns inspired by traditional Mexican textiles
  • Greenhouse nestled between the shipping containers
  • Moveable seating designed and built by Yollocalli students

In partnership with