Before and After: A Cramped Home in Mexico Gets a Drastic Makeover on a Tight Budget

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Three companies donated materials to Merida-based Dosa Studio to help create a bright, airy family home on a densely built-up site in Texcoco.

Mexico City based Dosa Studio renovated a 40-year-old residence in Texcoco, Mexico, about 25 kilometers northeast of Mexico City. Located on a main road and not built according to regulation, Casa Palmas suffered poor conditions for space, light, ventilation, and privacy. The owner, seeking a more intuitive space for her cousin and family, sought out the architects for a redesign.

Before

The entrance of the house before the renovation.

The entrance of the house before the renovation.

The interiors of the family home before the renovation.

The interiors of the family home before the renovation.

The courtyard of the Mexican family home before the renovation.

The courtyard of the Mexican family home before the renovation.

After

A renovated family house brings new solutions to the social and contemporary architecture of urban Texcoco.

A renovated family house brings new solutions to the social and contemporary architecture of urban Texcoco.

The entrance of the house after the renovation.

The entrance of the house after the renovation.

Working with a limited budget, Dosa Studio received sponsored materials from three Mexican companies—structural ceramic manufacturer Novaceramic, cement resin makers Mezcla Brava, and construction product maker Probarro—to create a well-ventilated, bright, and private home on the compact, 1,205-square-foot lot.

The balcony on the upper level looks down towards the courtyard.

The balcony on the upper level looks down towards the courtyard.

Carefully considered doors and windows bring the outdoors in.

Carefully considered doors and windows bring the outdoors in.

The resulting two-level dwelling boasts 1,722 square feet. Openings on the sawtooth roof structure evenly illuminate the interiors, projecting ever-shifting shadows on the walls.

A courtyard helps isolate the interior of the house visually and acoustically from its urban surroundings, and provides a large opening on the envelope of the house, where light and shadows enhance the colors and textures of the building throughout the day.

A courtyard helps isolate the interior of the house visually and acoustically from its urban surroundings, and provides a large opening on the envelope of the house, where light and shadows enhance the colors and textures of the building throughout the day.

A second courtyard is located by the service areas.

A second courtyard is located by the service areas.

The house is flanked by two courtyards that provide privacy by shielding the interiors from its neighbors on both sides. 

On the upper level, the bedrooms are connected by a narrow balcony.

On the upper level, the bedrooms are connected by a narrow balcony.

The first courtyard has a narrow stone garden that connects the street to the main entrance of the house. The service areas are contained within the second courtyard. 

A simple material palette of brick, concrete, tiles, and wood gives the home a warm, contemporary atmosphere.

A simple material palette of brick, concrete, tiles, and wood gives the home a warm, contemporary atmosphere.

"The spatial configuration of the house focuses on the original footprint of the previous house. The main principles of the configuration are the coexistence among users," says Raúl Medina, one of Dosa Studio’s cofounders.

Light enters the kitchen from the courtyard through one of the glass doors.

Light enters the kitchen from the courtyard through one of the glass doors.

On the ground floor are open-plan living, dining, and kitchen areas. On the upper floor are three bedrooms connected by a corridor, and a protective balcony that also links the rooms visually with the courtyard outdoors. 

The courtyards provide the family with private outdoor zones.

The courtyards provide the family with private outdoor zones.

The architects chose red brick as the main construction material, and did a site analysis to determine the positions for doors, windows, and apertures based on factors like the direction of natural light and thermal comfort. 

A bathroom is fitted with white tiles.

A bathroom is fitted with white tiles.

A corridor connects the three bedrooms on the upper level.

A corridor connects the three bedrooms on the upper level.

Medina and his partner Sergio Sousa believe that this house brings new solutions to the social and contemporary architecture in this part of Texcoco, while helping its residents overcome the challenge of noise pollution caused by traffic from the main road.

Stairs lead up to the three bedrooms.

Stairs lead up to the three bedrooms.

"This house shows that even on a small budget, architecture can improve life conditions through spatial experiences," says Sousa.

A floor plan of the interiors and two courtyards.

A floor plan of the interiors and two courtyards.

A cross sectional drawing of the new, two-level house

A cross sectional drawing of the new, two-level house


Project Credits:

Architect and builder: Dosa Studio

Structural engineering: Arcadio Garcia

Construction materials: Novaceramic, Mezcla Brava, and Probarro

Photography: Onnis Luque