San Pedro Community House
The village of San Pedro Tlatepusco is located in Chinantla Alta in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca state, Mexico. At an altitude of over 3,000 meters above sea level the land consists predominantly of woods and forests. The combination of high altitude and hot and humid tropical climate results in high levels of precipitation creating an environment that supports a wide variety of plant and animal species. The area has one of the highest indices of biodiversity on the planet.
San Pedro is accessible only by foot, and is to be reached after several hours of walking.
The community is included in the “Sustainable Development Plan of the Chinantla Alta de Oaxaca”, a spatial plan drafted by the communities themselves with the support of the Mexican NGO CAMPO with an intent to generate alternative sources of income to agriculture. Archintorno coordinated the overall project and managed the building site, working with the community and 11 Italian students on the construction of a community center.
The building is intended as an action supporting this development program which focuses on ecotourism and the enhancement of cultural and natural resources of the area. In addition to a community centre, the building serves as a guest house for tourists who are walking through the area on a well-known eco-tourism route through several indigenous communities.
The objective of the project goes beyond the simple construction of a community house; it aims to create a cultural exchange between two differing realities. This project was intended as a process through which the community of San Pedro Tlatepusco worked together with the students from the University of Naples for the design and construction of a community house. The project was organized in 3 distinct phases:
1 (six months) in Naples, where students of the Faculty of Architecture designed different project proposals for the community, that chose the one responding to their needs;
2 (three months) in San pedro Tlatepusco, the communities hosted the students, and together, they built the house;
3 (six months) back to Naples, dissemination through a book, a documentary and exhibitions.
The entire building includes four dormitories, a community kitchen and a multi-purpose living room. The building is built on a pre-existing structure of reinforced concrete, which was modified by breaking down the walls and opening up the space with windows and doors. The floors are constructed entirely from local pine wood. Construction techniques were incorporated that could respond to the weather (intense and extended periods of rainfall) and to the local resources (materials and construction knowledge). Furthermore, the main goal of the project was to demonstrate through the wooden structure of the upper floor that with lower costs and less time a solid structure that was useful, comfortable and safe was possible. Some of the main architectonic features are cross ventilation, walls with air insulation and constructed with more breathable materials (wood), reduction of direct sun radiation on walls and a ventilated roof.