Housing Research and Practical Experimentation Laboratory
The small community called Housing Research and Practical Experimentation Laboratory is the result of a project led by Mexico’s National Workers’ Housing Fund Institute – a federal company that develops workers’ housing. Tatiana Bilbao, Frida Escobedo and Fernanda Canales are among 32 architects and studios that have participated to design an innovative community development in Hidalgo, Mexico.
The institute, which is commonly known as Infonavit, tasked practices to develop innovative ways to improve quality housing for and living conditions of Mexico’s low-income workers. The aim was to develop new construction techniques, water saving systems and sustainable energy sources without surging the cost of the homes. Each studio used these principles to develop a house suited to one of nine climatic zones across the country. The long-term intention is that the designs can to be rolled out nationwide.
The New York firm MOS selected projects that demonstrate a range of different design qualities, from Escobedo’s barrel vaulted residence with clay brick walls and concrete flooring to Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carillo‘s design, which has walls built from tepetate rock, carpentry tinted with egg temper and stone flooring.
“The selection process revealed various categories and themes for which the projects could be classified,” MOS said. “Some projects rethink the fundamentals of low-income housing’s spatial organisation (corridors, courtyards, roofs, some rework labor and construction), and some recast structure or material… At first glance, many of these works might not appear radically different from existing low-income housing,” it added. “But upon closer study, the ingenuity of the projects selected whole yet retain their individual identities… The problem of low-income housing demands the thoughtful attention and expertise of architects like those included here,” said MOS. “For, given the limited resources of such works, each decision gains greater significance and has greater impact on the design and on the life of its inhabitants.”
The 32 residences are built alongside a welcome centre to provide a permanent exhibit for the possibilities of low-cost housing. As part of the project, Infonavit also enlisted Esrawe Studio to develop furniture to decorate the houses.
Photography is by Jaime Navarro.