Sustainable House

"Sustainable House": interview with Tatiano Bilbao, Yale School of Architecture.
Every family has the right to enjoy decent housing. The law establishes the tools and support necessary to achieve that objective. —Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Social housing has become one of the most important issues on the present day architectural agenda. There are more than thirty million houses in Mexico, but, with a total population of about 120 million and one of the highest population growth rates in Latin America, the country’s housing shortage amounts to a total of nine million homes.
Within this panorama, Tatiana Bilbao developed a project whose most important objective is to create a housing proto-type with good spatial and material qualities at an affordable price. To achieve such a goal, it was necessary to know what the prospective tenants would need in terms of materials, form, function, and appearance. After several in situ interviews and workshops — in contrast with the bulk of social housing being built around the country — they arrived at a design that adopts the form of an archetypical house (a pitched roof), while adapting to geographic, social, and cultural variations.
Bilbao expanded the minimal federal require-ment of 463 sq. ft. (43 m²) per house by building a central core of rigid materials (concrete blocks) and surrounding modules of lighter and cheaper materials (wooden pallets). These allow the homes to be expanded in phases, adapting to each family’s budget and desires, while preserving the out-side appearance of a completed house. The first phase of the house includes two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, and a 16 ft. (5 m) high dining and living room. When com-pleted, the third phase will provide space for five separate bedrooms.
The architects used several technological solutions in order to achieve maximum energy efficiency. A number of different interior arrangements were developed to cope with varying urban and rural habits and traditions, creating a possibility for Mexican families to live in an appropriate and dignified house.
Project Team: Tatiana Bilbao, David Vaner, Catia Bilbao (master plan and architecture); Juan Pablo Benlliure (office manager); Alba Cortés (team leader); Sonia Castañón, Valentina Marchetti, Enrique Silva, Abelardo Bravo, Alejandro Campos, Karen Díaz de León (design team)