Architecture by Shafa Diandra
The TRAVERSA HOUSE is located in a cattle ranch in a vast area next to the town Tanlajas (Tan – place / lajas – stones in layers) in the Huasteca Potosi, one of the four regions of the Mexican State, San Luis Potosi.
“The objective of our work is to value natural materials and traditional constructive techniques, breaking the prejudice toward the use of those resources, like for example that a dirt house should be small and closed. We hope the Traversa house will encourage architects and builders from the area to utilize the local bamboo and stone in their projects.” explained marina Vella, the architect and founder of marina Vella arquitectura.
in the area, Its climate is warm and humid, with an average temperature higher than 18ºC. The Coy river crosses the land and in the high season, it overflows forming springs and fountains. The population of this area is of the Teneek ethnic group whose vernacular architecture is considered a cultural heritage of the Huasteca Potosina because of the building materials used, their construction techniques as well as the preservation concepts of their environment.
“We believe that the idea of being able to sow and harvest locally our building materials is a powerful way to practice environmentally and economically friendly concepts.”
Conceived as a long narrow strip in the landscape, integrating and mimetizing itself with its natural surroundings, the TRAVERSA HOUSE has three main guidelines. The first one is the requirements of use which defines its type as temporary housing for the owners and friends when they visit and supervise the area.
The second one is to achieve a spatial contemporary architecture while using and putting in value the constructive techniques and materials used by the Teneek vernacular housing. At the same time, it has to be in accordance with the studio’s architectural principles honoring the constructive éléments and the study of the context regarding the climate needs of the area.
“As architects, we must think in the future of the places we work for and ask ourselves how we can, with our work, generate identity and self-confidence in these communities.”
“How can we create economic autonomy by conserving and enhancing the existing landscape while at the same time building positive and inspiring spaces for the people that will use them? This way of thinking must be in all our actions all the time in order to build a sustainable and equitable planet.”
A space to socialize with nature
The TRAVERSA HOUSE takes as the starting point the existing tamarindo trees, the sun’s path, and the wind. With these main lines, the program began decomposing in 4 modules for the social and bedroom zones, articulating it with a system of patios and circulation axis.
Because of the diverse users, it was important to establish a spatial organization of the program that would permit multiple simultaneous activities avoiding visual and acoustic encounters.
“It is important to understand that the thermal behavior of natural materials is impressive and worth the effort. especially in these times that we must spend a lot of time at home and we must reduce the consumption of mechanical systems to cool or heat the environments we live in. We think that all materials can combine well, justifying their use while generating efficient designs with proportion and details.”
The inclined lines that cross and form full and empty spaces manage to take advantage of the views and the circulation of the wind, framing the landscape and generating ventilated and welcoming spaces. An important project goal was to design a roof coverage resembling the effect generated by the treetops and at the same time defining the mountain lines.
utilizing local materials to imbue livability
“From our experience, we`ve realized that local communities have the constructive knowledge and materials available, but they`re often not considered for the projects.”
“Usually the constructors prefer industrialized materials coming from distant places. From our point of view, this is caused for two reasons. In the first place, there is a prejudice against natural materials that are often seen as poor and less resistant by locals and constructors. In the second place, it is easier and faster to construct with industrial materials.”
here in traverse house, The materials used are the Tanlajas stones, the local bamboo “guadua vellutina” known as Otate, (considered one of the most flexible and resilient species because of the closeness of the bamboo rings), and the earth of the ground. To protect the building from humidity stone was used in the external façades. To keep the living spaces fresh and nice, a constructive system known as “enjarre” (bahareque – green building in bio-construction), was used in the interior walls.
“We recognize the value of industrial materials, and we use them in a combined way in our projects. We think that by not using the local natural resources, we´ll lose those traditional techniques that allow a sustainable and bioclimatic architecture that fits the landscape, generates employment for the communities and reduces transportation and contamination.”
The roof coverage is separated from the walls to generate natural cross ventilation in the rooms and so avoiding any mechanical system.
In the construction of the roof coverage parallel systems were used, present and vernacular, like curving the beams with the “sangrado” technique and the use of scaffolding and formwork in the structure. Mat or ironed bamboo from the specie old hamii were used for the ceiling and bamboo canisters for the friezes. Orejon Wood was used in the woodwork. All materials were harvested from the Huasteca area, one of the famous environmentally preservation spots in Mexico rich in lush nature.
“We like very much of our projects to realize how they melt into the landscape, seeming that they always were there.”
“In the Traversa House, we particularly appreciate the spatial relations and views generated with the context from the closed and open spaces as well. We are also moved by the constructive details achieved and the encounter between the materials.”
” I live in a country where 70% of the constructions are informal and without the participation of architects. From the beginning of the pandemia and the coming lockdowns, we realized the negative impact it had on homes without quality spaces, natural lighting, or ventilation.”
“In the context that we are experiencing, problems linked to living spaces have emerged with clear mental and physical health consequences. The architects’ main challenge is to be part of the solution and actively participate in the design of cities and housing that take into account these new paradigms.”
About the architect
Marina Vella Arquitectura was founded in 2011 after some time of graduating and working as an architect in Switzerland. The studio addresses the project by understanding the site’s physical characteristics, the existing constructive materials and resources, and the local communities’ constructive knowledge and techniques. This results in an endless objective to reuse local knowledge to achieve a contemporary architecture that adapts to the context while valuing vernacular architecture’s construction materials and techniques.
Photos: marina vella arquitectura
Source: marina vella arquitectura
San Luis Potosi Post