Rural Sports Center
San Pedro Apóstol, Oaxaca, Mexico
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Using indigenous techniques and local resources.

image: beRootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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Category:
recreation & sport
Phase:
under construction
Design:
Rootstudio, Casatierra, JJ Santibañez
Updated:
12 November 2013
introduction

San Pedro Apóstol Rural Sports Center is intended as a foundation for the social, economic, sustainable and cultural development of the city and the community. It is a hub for sport, recreation, entertainment, and commerce in San Pedro Apóstol.

Once offered the GAMECHANGERS grant, the design team initiated the process of collaborating with the local community. The team offered skills training and workshops to the locals. Thus the center was built with the help of the local community, designers and students. The design team trained builders in indigenous building techniques using local materials and resources whilst also providing technical guidance from traditional methods in innovative ways. The bulk of the project was built by the local community through a self-construction system. In this way, the designers were able to provide the town with a sports center but also educate the community through participatory learning by building. Recuperating traditions through the use of materials and construction methods will be vital in the coming future. The grant was mainly used for purchasing materials and specialized labor, since the community will construct a large part of the project. This included earth for adobes and rammed earth construction, hand made stone, cactus, trees and reeds from the community. Materials were also bought from the economic support of the Game Changers competition, the local government, Mr. Noé donation, Alfredo Harp Helú Oaxaca Fundation and rOOtstudio1.

View over the terrain with the pavilion at the background

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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cultural and social context

San Pedro Apóstol is a small municipality in the State of Oaxaca, México. A budding dream for this small community, especially the younger generation, was a community center and park with adequate space for various sport and social recreation. A lack of resources never allowed them to realize this dream. By using a piece of municipality donated community land, with breath-taking natural surroundings, the center built is now able to host multiple sports functions aimed at different population segments, contributing to better social cohesion. The project has two main fields, one for soccer and another for basketball. These will hold important “inter-villa” tournaments, as well as inter-school games for the schools in the locality.

The elderly population of San Pedro Apóstol enjoy taking walks on this specific land, hence the sports center aims to materialize their oft-trodden paths, equipping them with resting, exercising and leisure areas. By taking advantage of the existing dam, nautical sports (swimming, kayaks) were implemented and this is a unique feature for the center in the whole region. The dam was extend from 200m to achieve the 500m minimal area needed for kayaking. The complex contains a deck and warehouse space for kayak storage. The Center provides locker rooms, a medical post, a multi-purpose area and an outdoor kitchen. A didactical vegetable garden contributes to sustainable agriculture. 450 trees have been planted for this future green park.

People from several countries, as well as local students and the community worked together on the project to make it a reality. The completion took two years. After finishing this project, some the habitants on San Pedro started to use the same methods and materials to construct their own homes. Whilst the project was starting Rene, a farmer worker from the village, started to build his home with concrete block. However, after seeing, constructing and understanding the potential and properties of the local natural materials used for the center, he decided his bedroom would work better with a rammed earth wall given its thermal properties; as in his bedroom the incidence of the sun was stronger. According to the owner, the rammed earth wall has a unique natural and aesthetic appearance.

materials and building techniques

Self-construction was the main method employed on site. The project employed materials that allowed for local production of components including earth adobes, stone, tiles and reeds. The team ran several workshops that organized the different techniques being used. Everyone made use of their hands, low-tech equipment, lots of sweat, smiles and cooperation all around!

The self-construction system provides not only significant community cohesion; it also fosters education under the philosophy of “learning by building”. Its construction in 2011 allowed the recuperation of traditions and the reuse of some almost forgotten materials. As a result, it is an exemplary project showcasing good design practice that can be replicated in future. The community re-learnt how to build their own houses. An effort made by architects, students, NGOs and rural populations that achieved real and positive results. rOOtstudio believes this project is proof that transference of knowledge through building works.

All the techniques used onsite were discussed with the community ahead of time in order to nurture an open consultation and keep everyone on the same page. Two overarching techniques, adobe and rammed earth, were employed. These techniques were used as bearing systems without the use of chemical stabilizers. The use of these two methods created a discussion amongst students and the community. They began considering which system would work better in the region. The adobes used in the locker rooms and infirmary was made with earth from a 200 year old wall that had collapsed some months before the beginning of the project. In this case, the earth was mixed with Nopal, dissolved in water and maturated for two days to help the agglutination of the clay, improving the waterproofing of the material. Then, the adobes were redone with appropriate measures for the specific building. So, the material was 100% recycled, a good demonstration of ecological properties and its violable application in today’s reality.

earth bricks wall

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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making earth bricks

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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earth bricks wall

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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sport field

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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image gallery
building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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working together

image: Rootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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building process

image: beRootstudio | CC-BY-NC-SA_black.png some rights reserved
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