After the earthquake on September 19, 2017, we designed a house for the Guzmán family in the rural town of Ocuilan de Arteaga–through a request by Fundación PienZaSostenible and Love Army México.
The family land–of 4,305 ft2–where the house used to be is divided into five equal parts: one per sibling. In their 807 ft2 plot, the Guzman’s originally had a precarious wood construction of approximately 16 x 13 feet, covered in metal sheets, without any kind of isolation, and with an attached latrine; inside, it had soil floors. The house was inhabited by Karina, her husband Miguel Ángel, and their daughters: Annette and Alix.
We talked with the family about the layout for their new home; we wanted to know what they needed and what would work for them. They requested two rooms, a small living room, and a wood-burning stove outside, preferably roofed. If we had designed a one-story house–i.e., a 527 ft2 building in a land of 807 ft2–the family would have been left without open areas. Therefore, we decided to build a two-story house, reducing the floor plan to 263 ft2 and leaving an area for planting trees. Furthermore, this allowed us to create a terrace on the third floor–an intimate space for the family, where they can see the town, the neighboring fields, and the surrounding volcanoes.
Our conversations leaded to the relevance of outdoor areas: Karina cooks with firewood outside, while the girls play in the field. This is the reason why we contemplated the kitchen as the central axis of the house, the place from where you can see everything. This way, while Karina is cooking, she can have a view of the field and see her daughters playing, as well as interact with her family and neighbors.
The toilet, previously attached to the house, was shared by all of the families. We sought to respect this common use, so the toilet was built as an independent facility and is now a full bathroom and a more private space.
We used concrete for the foundation and polished cement for the floors. Vertical reinforcements were installed in the walls–reinforced concrete slabs. Compressed earth blocks, created in situ, were used for every wall and pinewood was used for the doors and windows.
This is how we were able to entirely adapt the design to the needs and uses of the Guzman family and to build a new and more resistant home for them, providing better space conditions.
'After the earthquakes last September and the bewildered reaction of the authorities, there were several private initiatives that organized with different abilities and reach to lend their hand. Some, under the coordination of PienZaSostenible, took place in communities and towns in the states of Morelos and Mexico, with the support of Love Army, who raised private funds for the reconstruction of damaged houses.
Unlike institutional initiatives–which took systematic measures (even when each case is exactly that: one case), PienZaSostenible leaded a customized process in which they: identified the houses that were damaged and without the right to receive state support; invited several architects to participate, and created a mobile plant capable of producing more than 2,500 high-strength eco-blocks per day. The organization established a process in which the architects met with the affected families and together developed a project that, after receiving the client's approval, was then built with a local company.'
Material Used :
We used concrete for the foundation and polished cement for the floors. Vertical reinforcements were installed in the walls–reinforced concrete slabs. Compressed earth blocks, created in situ were used for every wall, and pinewood was used for the doors and windows.