Private Houses
Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico - Build completed in 2017
Yoshihiro Koitani


Taller Tlaiye as Architects

Quinta Gaby (QG) is a single-family residence built using rammed earth, a thousand-year old technique which consists of building solid walls by tamping layers of damp earth inside a wooden formwork.

The design of the house evokes a complete harmony, honoring the beauty of its natural environment. QG consists of three rectangular shapes, which are located around the central patio where the papelillo tree becomes the heart of the home. The entrance of the house is marked with a pink door, a small tribute to the transcendent work of the renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragan. When crossing the door you enter the patio, an outdoor space, which distributes, communicates and connects the rest of the rooms of the house, acting as the core of all the activities as it used to be in the Mexican haciendas, where the interior and exterior have an intimate relationship. The interior spaces are ample and continuous; the windows hide between the walls opening a unified space where the life of the residents runs without limitations.  

The QG project recovers the rammed earth construction method for its multiple benefits by using it extensively in a residential house. From the aesthetic point of view, the material offers unlimited design and creative possibilities; the natural beauty of the rammed earth conveys a great honesty by exposing the irregular shape of its layers, colors and textures that along with its defects and peculiarities, add character and beauty to the house.

Rammed earth is characterized by its thermal inertia, a high hygrothermal comfort and very low CO2 emissions; it also has a very good acoustic insulation capacity due to its density and thickness. In addition, its mineral mixture reacts as a fire inhibitor. The elements of rammed earth are soluble in water and if they are moistened enough, the compactness of the material is lost so it becomes moldable and plastic, which qualifies it as a recyclable element.

As architects, we wanted to overcome the limiting preconception of the materials that should be used for the construction of dignified housing, reassessing a traditional construction method and its functional linkage with current needs and technologies.

QG takes the material, our land, as a starting point for a reinterpretation of Mexican architecture, benefiting from the significant relationship between rammed earth and our pre-Hispanic cultures and its aesthetic and sustainable benefits. The Quinta responds to its surroundings using materials from the region and taking advantage of natural lighting and ventilation. The materials are used in their natural state: thick walls of mud and earth kneaded and rammed; apparent concrete baseboards and floors; slabs plastered with high purity lime; pools, water mirrors and bathrooms covered in white cement colored with tannins extracted from the bark of a tree. An organic architecture develops from the inside out responding to the needs of those who inhabit it and its surroundings. 

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