Social Housing for Rural Mexico

Mexican Social Housing, Rural Homes, Residences, Architecture Development, Architect, Images

Social Housing for Rural Mexico Design

Low Cost Homes in Mexico for INFONAVIT design by SCI-Arc faculty members

Aug 9, 2017

Social Housing in Rural Mexico by SCI-Arc

SCI-Arc Faculty Design

Location: Mexico

SCI-Arc Faculty Design New Social Housing for Rural Mexico

Social Housing for Rural Mexico Social Housing for Rural Mexico
images © John Enright of Griffin Enright

SCI-Arc is pleased to announce that Mexico’s Institute of the National Fund for Workers’ Housing, (INFONAVIT) selected six SCI-Arc faculty to finalize designs addressing housing needs in a variety of environmental and economic climates across Mexico.

INFONAVIT recently invited 90 design offices to present proposals for a new national housing model. INFONAVIT is a federally-administered program that works with labor, business, and government to help Mexican citizens exercise a constitutional right to dignified housing. The six SCI-Arc faculty members who were selected to finalize designs include:

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © Jackilin Hah Bloom of Pita & Bloom

Griffin Enright- Vice Director John Enright, and SCI-Arc Faculty Margaret Griffin;
Pita + Bloom- Graduate Thesis Coordinator Florencia Pita, and SCI-Arc Faculty Jackilin Bloom;
Zago Architecture- SCI-Arc Faculty Andrew Zago; and
RNThomsen Architecture- SCI-Arc Faculty Russell N. Thomsen.

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © Russell Thomsen of RNThomsen ARCHITECTURE

“We are proud and excited that many of our faculty are part of this ambitious project,” says SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso. “We see it as an organic development of our commitment with Mexico, and to tackle complex architecture problems with the desire and hope that, despite constraints, ambitious ideas can prevail.”

The designs will be incorporated into a master plan by New York-based MOS Architects into a prototype neighborhood of unique houses. Construction will commence in September of 2017 in Apan, Hidalgo, Mexico.

Untitled by Griffin Enright Leveraging the region’s common concrete construction methods, a familiar concrete frame and slab delivers a surprising form that combines an atypical ruled surface and the candela/thin-shell concrete roof structure that figures prominently in Mexico’s architectural heritage. A compact footprint lends a vertical presence in which each structure features four variable ruled-surface roof configurations.

The firm’s design includes three residential unit prototypes, each measuring 480 square feet and two-levels. Narrow stairs to two bedrooms and a bath are lit by a skylight above. Upstairs lofts in the thin shell roof-system provide additional sleeping or storage. Porches or overhangs extend interior living spaces into the yard. Of the 12 roof configurations, each generates its own elevation profile for a distinct character. A single unit stands self-contained and is designed to negotiate dense, urban relationships adaptable to varying plot sizes and solar orientations.

“What fascinated me working on the house was the scale,” Griffin says. “We worked on this design challenge as though we were going to live there; to really imagine how a small space could work but feel much bigger.”

Comfort is not compromised for density. Higher-than-average ceiling heights on both levels make the home feel bigger than it really is. The living quarters on the ground floor feature nine-foot ceilings, and the bedrooms on the second floor are high enough for lofts. This extra height affords room for larger families of up to six or eight.

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © Pita + Bloom

Medianera by Pita + Bloom
Medianera, which translates to “party wall,” from Spanish, is used as an architectural element of inclusion rather than a traditional one of division. By establishing a party wall towards the center of a property, the Medianera house creates variatiable possibilities for rural housing, expanding space for either landscape, or an interchange between multiple houses.

Additional dwelling structures can be added to the porous concrete party wall, where new units adhere to while remaining separate from the initial structure. The enclosure of the house is defined by half-barrel vault ceilings that allow for natural light, ventilation, and a larger sense of volume within a small dwelling.

“On an urban site, you have two party walls separating you from your neighbor but with the party wall at the center of the house, families become the neighbors,” Pita explains. “So, when kids get married and have kids, you can expand while maintaining the original unit, families can comfortably support aging family members, and the structure really helps organize the family. It’s an urban strategy for a horizontal expansion.”

Because the design is for a social housing application, efficiency of not only scale but also construction was paramount. Locally and readily available materials–in this case, concrete masonry units, (CMUs)–maintain character and design integrity.

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © Zago Architecture

Casa Autoproyectar by Zago Architecture
Casa Autoproyectar is a single-story residence designed for self-construction by homeowners in Nanacamilpa de Mariano Arista, Tlaxcala. It is arranged around two courtyards, one semi-public and one private. The first is a forecourt defined by gateaccess to the house.

This court opens to a main living space with a kitchen and a large, glazed wall. A door leads to a second courtyard, a private garden with glazed doors to a bedroom. Constructed from concrete blocks, a brightly colored metal roof set at an angle to the rest of the house allows for circulation from the gate to the front door, and to the bedrooms in the rain. Despite its modest size, the house provides generous and nuanced living space.

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © RNThomsen ARCHITECTURE

Modern Box by RNThomsen ARCHITECTURE
The Modern Box home exceeds “existenzminimum” using humble materials, forms and means to produce a well-proportioned dwelling. Poured-in-place concrete, concrete masonry units, and simple wood elements creates forms that respond to solar orientation to capture reflected light and produce shade in the semi-arid climate of Querétaro. An outdoor courtyard separates private sleeping spaces from shared living and cooking space.

As an unassigned outdoor room, the shaded courtyard can be used as an outdoor garden or a commercial workspace. Its rectangular bar form enables a number of different ways the house might be expanded as an ensemble of buildings around shared, outdoor courtyards, or as one-room additions to the second story of the original house. In the

vernacular building tradition, outdoor spaces on the flat roof areas can be used as work areas or sleeping porches.

“This problem of this modest house in Mexico has presented us with a dilemma: How can design provide the greatest amount of architecture with the least amount of building form?” Thomson asks. “I am pleased to take our work to the next stage of development, and very excited to see it realized alongside the work of so many other talented architects.”

Out of the 90 design offices initially invited by INFONAVIT, a total of 10 SCI-Arc faculty were included:
John Enright of Griffin Enright
Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini
Tom Wiscombe of Tom Wiscombe Architecture
Jackilin Hah Bloom of Pita & Bloom
Hernan Diaz Alonso of Xefirotarch // HDA
Marcelo Spina of Patterns
Andrew Zago of Zago Architecture
Darin Johnstone of dja
Russell Thomsen of RNThomsen ARCHITECTURE
Dwayne Oyler of Oyler Wu Collaborative
Francisco Pardo of Francisco Pardo Arquitecto

Social Housing for Rural Mexico
image © John Enright of Griffin Enright

About SCI-Arc
Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) is dedicated to educating architects who will imagine and shape the future. It is an independent, accredited degree-granting institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture. Located in a quarter-mile-long former freight depot in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, the school is distinguished by its vibrant studio culture and emphasis on process.

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