Social housing has become one of the most pressing issues of the architectural agenda. Mexico with its population of 128 million people, growing at one of the fastest rates in Latin America, has thirty million homes, but a shortage of nine million units.
Within this landscape, we developed a project whose most objective was the creation of an affordable housing prototype. To be able to reach our goal, we needed to research what people, future inhabitants, wanted and needed in terms of materials, form, function and appearance. After several on-site interviews and workshops, in a process largely at odds with how social housing is being built around Mexico today, we created a concept modeled after archetypal house (with a gabled roof) able to adapt to geographical, social and cultural variations.
We expanded on the minimal federal requirement of 43 m² (463 ft²) per house, by building a central core of cinder blocks and different surrounding modules of lighter / cheaper materials (wooden pallets) which allow for future expansions in different phases, while maintaining the outside appearance of a completed house and adapting to each family’s budget, needs and desires. The first phase of the house includes two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen and a five-meter height dining / living room, but when completed, there is space for five separate bedrooms.
Several ecological strategies were used throughout the design process to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Different interior configurations can be deployed to accommodate varying urban and rural traditions. The project’s objective is providing every Mexican family the possibility to have access to an intelligently designed, affordable solution for a house.
Acuña Housing Prototype
On May 25th, 2015, a tornado classified Category F-4 hit the west area of Ciudad Acuña at 6 am, leaving 3,066 damaged houses. To help the community affected by this natural phenomenon, we designed a Masterplan that could create a high-quality public space where families could enjoy and practice outdoor activities.
This project builds on the research and the work that went into the Chiapas Sustainable Housing project presented at the 2015 Chicago Biennial. Acuña Sustainable Housing is a small development of sixteen houses built with funds from Mexico’s federal housing agency, INFONAVIT, into an existing development. The original prototype was modified to account for budgetary, climactic, and cultural differences.
The project also involved collaborating with INFONAVIT on an extension of the public program. The studio was asked to work on a series of public spaces including a linear park, a playground, and a memorial to grow the sense of place-based identification in the neighborhood.