written by:
September 19, 2011

In this series, trace the evolution of lamesadevenn, an international collaborative of architects, product designers and communication specialists who are redefining how and why we design. They’ve brought in journalist Seth Biderman and illustrator Nacho Durá to chronicle their “living projects,” like the Rancho—a live/work space they’re building to foster community and sustainability in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Check out Part 1: A Vision is Born, and learn about the challenges of finding the right site in Part 2: The Sweet Spot.

In late 2010, lamesadevenn hooked up with La Mesita, an emerging social profit organization in New Mexico. The convergence of spirits and philosophy was too compelling to ignore. Lawyer Todd Lopez, the driving force behind La Mesita, and lamesadevenn architect and project coordinator Christian Alba began searching for a site to make their dreams reality.

With 17 people to the square mile, New Mexico is one of the country’s loneliest states, and cheap land is still abundant. But cheap wasn’t the only criteria: La Mesita was a community-minded organization, and the idea was to be as close to Santa Fe as pos
With 17 people to the square mile, New Mexico is one of the country’s loneliest states, and cheap land is still abundant. But cheap wasn’t the only criteria: La Mesita was a community-minded organization, and the idea was to be as close to Santa Fe as possible, driving prices up and options down. It took months before Alba and Lopez finally found a site that could work, on the dry southside of town.
1 / 9
Lamesadevenn cofounder Angus Eade baptized it “The Sweet Spot.” More than the fact that the site was affordable, Eade recognized the great potential of the neighborhood, a loose-knit group of folks dedicated to sustainability, education, and thinking out
Lamesadevenn cofounder Angus Eade baptized it “The Sweet Spot.” More than the fact that the site was affordable, Eade recognized the great potential of the neighborhood, a loose-knit group of folks dedicated to sustainability, education, and thinking out of the box. They were the kind of people lamesadevenn, and La Mesita, love.
2 / 9
Eade collaborated with comic artist Jorge Zavellos to capture the moment. Lopez and Alba had both grown up in Santa Fe, and were wary of the town’s tendency toward new age extremism.
Eade collaborated with comic artist Jorge Zavellos to capture the moment. Lopez and Alba had both grown up in Santa Fe, and were wary of the town’s tendency toward new age extremism.
3 / 9
Finding innovative ways to preserve the delicate high desert ecosystem would be crucial.
Finding innovative ways to preserve the delicate high desert ecosystem would be crucial.
4 / 9
There’s little evidence that Lopez and Alba actually had a run-in with a llama, but Eade’s fictional embellishment captures one truth: the site came with some unexpected elements.
There’s little evidence that Lopez and Alba actually had a run-in with a llama, but Eade’s fictional embellishment captures one truth: the site came with some unexpected elements.
5 / 9
Apart from a potentially collaborative neighborhood, the site also offered great views. But even as Eade took this shot, from the porch of a neighbor’s house, he noticed the bald patches of dirt between the juniper and pinon trees: evidence of erosion.
Apart from a potentially collaborative neighborhood, the site also offered great views. But even as Eade took this shot, from the porch of a neighbor’s house, he noticed the bald patches of dirt between the juniper and pinon trees: evidence of erosion.
6 / 9
Superimposed topographical lines on this aerial view show how the proposed site—dead center in the photo—drops toward an arroyo, or sandy wash, running vertically through the left third of the photo. New Mexico’s sudden summer rainstorms are notorious for
Superimposed topographical lines on this aerial view show how the proposed site—dead center in the photo—drops toward an arroyo, or sandy wash, running vertically through the left third of the photo. New Mexico’s sudden summer rainstorms are notorious for flooding these arroyos and cutting away at eroded banks—literally carrying away property in the process.
7 / 9
Oceans recede, ice ages come and go, volcanoes explode: New Mexico is a geologist’s dream, but an architect’s nightmare. Lamesadevenn collaborator Nacho Dura’s illustration shows how the soil beneath the site varies in composition when you start drilling.
Oceans recede, ice ages come and go, volcanoes explode: New Mexico is a geologist’s dream, but an architect’s nightmare. Lamesadevenn collaborator Nacho Dura’s illustration shows how the soil beneath the site varies in composition when you start drilling. Clayish soil is the problem: like cactus and camels, it drinks thirstily whenever water comes its way, and then holds on to it. Fed by spring runoffs or fall monsoons, these “expansive” soils can increase in volume by as much as 10%, wreaking havoc on building foundations.
8 / 9
Realizing the lamesadevenn dream would take more than panache, the collaborators needed more information before they could start building, and so had to reach in to their back pockets to pay for a drilling service and soil study. Preliminary findings from
Realizing the lamesadevenn dream would take more than panache, the collaborators needed more information before they could start building, and so had to reach in to their back pockets to pay for a drilling service and soil study. Preliminary findings from the hydrologists’ report: if you want to build big out here, you’ve got to build low. It was time to start thinking about excavation—nearly 30 feet down into the ground.Click here to follow the lamesadevenn story from the beginning.
9 / 9
With 17 people to the square mile, New Mexico is one of the country’s loneliest states, and cheap land is still abundant. But cheap wasn’t the only criteria: La Mesita was a community-minded organization, and the idea was to be as close to Santa Fe as pos
With 17 people to the square mile, New Mexico is one of the country’s loneliest states, and cheap land is still abundant. But cheap wasn’t the only criteria: La Mesita was a community-minded organization, and the idea was to be as close to Santa Fe as possible, driving prices up and options down. It took months before Alba and Lopez finally found a site that could work, on the dry southside of town.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

dining room lighting
These renovations connect rustic, classic, and modern design in Italy.
February 10, 2016
12362509 211441865858796 1743381178 n1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 10, 2016
modern outdoor garden room plastic polycarbonate
From colorful living rooms to a backyard retreat, Belgian designers reimagine vernacular forms and materials for the modern world.
February 10, 2016
Tel Aviv kitchen with custom dining table and Smeg fridge
Would you go for an out-of-the-box palette for your major appliances? See how these kitchens tackle the trend.
February 10, 2016
Exhibition view, of Klaus Wittkugel works at P! gallery, New York
On view through February 21 at New York's P! gallery, a new show explores the politics of Cold War-era graphic design with a presentation of works by Klaus Wittkugel—East Germany's most prolific graphic designer. Curator Prem Krishnamurthy walks us through the highlights.
February 10, 2016
Reclaimed cedar and gray-stucco home outside San Francisco.
The new kid on the block in a predominantly Eichler neighborhood, this Menlo Park home breaks the mold and divides into three pavilions connected by breezeways.
February 10, 2016
A third floor addition and whole-house renovation modernized a funky cottage on an unusual, triple-wide lot in San Francisco.
From modern interiors hidden within historic structures to unabashedly modern dwellings, these seven renovations take totally different approaches to San Francisco's historic building stock.
February 10, 2016
Delphi sofa from Erik Jørgensen and gyrofocus fireplace in living room of Villa Le Trident in the French Riviera, renovated by 4a Architekten.
The Aegean's all-white architecture famously helped inspire Le Corbusier; these five dwellings continue in that proud modern tradition (though not all are as minimalist).
February 10, 2016
San Francisco dining room with chandelier and Eames shell chairs
Brooklyn-based RBW's work—from diminutive sconces to large floor lamps—shape these five interiors.
February 09, 2016
Glass-fronted converted garage in Washington
These garages go behind parking cars and storing your drum sets.
February 09, 2016
Modern Texas home office with sliding walls, behr black chalkboard paint, concrete walls, and white oak flooring
From appropriated nooks to glass-encased rooms, each of these modern offices works a unique angle.
February 09, 2016
picnic-style table in renovated San Francisco house
From chandeliers to pendants, these designs make the dining room the most entertaining space in the house.
February 09, 2016
Midcentury house in Portland with iron colored facade and gold front door
From preserved masterworks to carefully updated time capsules, these homes have one thing in common (other than a healthy appreciation for everything Eames): the conviction that the '40s, '50s, and '60s were the most outstanding moments in American architecture.
February 09, 2016
Modern living room with furniture designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba
These oases by the sea, many done up in white, make stunning escapes.
February 08, 2016
A Philippe Starck standing lamp and an Eames chaise longue bracket the living room; two Lawrence Weiner prints hang behind a pair of Warren Platner chairs and a table purchased from a River Oaks estate sale; at far left of the room, a partial wall of new
Texas might have a big reputation, but these homes show the variety of shapes and sizes in the Lone Star State.
February 08, 2016
Montigo gas-burning fireplace in spacious living room.
Built atop the foundation of a flood-damaged home, this 3,000-square-foot Maryland home features vibrant furniture placed in front of stunning views of a nearby estuary.
February 08, 2016
Studio addition in Seattle
An architect couple sets out to transform a run-down property.
February 08, 2016
West Elm coffee table, custom Joybird sofa, and matching Jens Risom chairs in living room of Westchester renovation by Khanna Shultz.
Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite fans and experts on Twitter to weigh in on trending topics in design.
February 08, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment living room vertical oak slats
For the modernists among us, these spare spaces are a dream come true.
February 08, 2016
The square fountain at the courtyard's center is a modern rendition of a very traditional feature in many Middle Eastern homes.
From a large gathering space for family or a tranquil sanctuary, these seven designs feature some very different takes on the ancient idea of a courtyard.
February 08, 2016
stdaluminum 021
Since windows and doors are such important aspects of your home, it’s always a good idea to take the time to evaluate how they fit within the lifestyle you want. Whether you’re in the middle of constructing a new home, or you’re considering replacing your current setup, there are multiple elements to consider when it comes time to make the final decisions. Milgard® Windows & Doors understands how vital these choices are to the well-being of your home and has developed ways to turn the process into a journey that can be just as enjoyable as it is fulfilling. Not sure where to start? We gathered some helpful insights from their team of experts to help us better understand what goes into the process of bringing your vision to life.
February 08, 2016
modern fire resistant green boulder loewen windows south facade triple planed low-e glass
These houses in Broncos Country prove modern design is alive in the Rocky Mountains.
February 08, 2016
french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses taste products
Ambience is a key ingredient to any meal—materials, textures, and mood all impart a certain flavor.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016