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Modern & Mayan craft inspire quake-proof homes & learning coop

When a community group in Guadalajara, Mexico wanted to build housing for workshops on their land overlooking the Huentitán Canyon, they called on Sandy Minier and Javier Reyes, architects specializing in natural construction and traditional Mesoamerican techniques.

Teaming up with architect Pedro Bravo, the group designed a mixed modern and traditional structure that was so simple to assemble that 100 untrained volunteers erected it in 4 days.

After a concrete base had been laid, the volunteers crafted walls of bahareque (mud and reed frames), “tierra compactada” (rammed earth), and wove lattices from carrizo (a reed from the bamboo family) to protect the exterior from wind, rain, and sun.

In the completed community center built for the Mexican Institute for Community Development (IMDEC), there are bunk rooms and private apartments, as well as bathrooms, showers and a multipurpose meeting room with spectacular views of the canyon.

The space is used by IMDEC, and is rented out by non-profits to hold conventions and workshops.