Understanding of the Social Context

authors Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura
projects Social Production of Housing, México

Winner of the Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award, Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura is renowned for its social housing exercises projects made in collaboration with the community and based on the principles of sustainability.
EXERCICE I. The Nahua community of Tepetzintan, located in the North-eastern Sierra of Puebla, had two seemingly isolated problems. On the one hand, there was a lack of housing suitable for the site, the climate and the customs and traditions of the region. On the other, untapped bamboo which presented a hindrance for planting milpa and coffee plantations, was removed from the plots without any use. So, how could we connect these challenges? Our visits and dialogues with the community inspired us to propose a housing project that would use the two existing bamboo species in the region to design and build, in a participatory way, a housing exercise. The project started with the knowledge of the customs and traditions of the families, the understanding of the site, the construction systems used and the way of occupying the territory. The fundamental part of the research process consisted of conducting a survey among the residents. Once we had a clear diagnosis, we designed a home that would fit their needs, respecting the main spaces of the traditional dwelling: salon, altar, kitchen, portico, bedrooms and bathroom. The project consisted in consolidating fundamental spaces such as the bathroom, the rooms and the kitchen, as well as in integrating lowcost ecological technologies for the collection, storage and treatment of water. In addition, basic bioclimatic principles were integrated to make the home comfortable (cross ventilation, interior height, hot air exhaust chimneys) throughout the year. As the project is governed by Social Production, it was of great importance to train the community to use the appropriate construction technique for the use of bamboo, which ensured three main objectives: transfer of knowledge, constructive quality and capacity to replicate the project. A total of five technical workshops were conducted covering all stages of bamboo management, from forestry to the construction of structures.