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In the rural areas of Mexico, one can find plenty of vernacular houses developed based on the local living habits and materials. Yet there is a prevailing idea that natural materials do not resist to time and natural disasters. Today people tend to prefer concrete buildings and they have become the standard worldwide, no matter in the cities or in the countryside.
In the last few year, berootstudio together with some local architects, have been working to bring back the wise, indigenous building traditions in order to change these mis-perceptions. This is done through workshops focusing on solving local needs or conferences in universities, educational centers or through private works such as the Sport City Oaxaca.
During the building process, it was a challenge to bring together the artisan work & contemporary building techniques - one is the low tech rural techniques while the others is the urban high technology. So how did the local artisans and contractors work together? According to the architects, "the combination was perfect because they could learn from each other, shared meals, beers, life and developed friendships! One of the main challenge for the supervision of the project, is to coordinate the different tempo of the two worlds - one is slow while the other one is a fast machine of the urban economy".
For the bamboo structure, none of the contractors or artisan were able to do it so the students of Oaxaca university were invited, who had experiences working in communities projects. "It was great atmosphere at the building site when students, engineers, technician, artisan, architects, suppliers and school visitors of 4 years worked together to make this an example of vernacular and contemporary building fusion".
Natural materials (such as adobe blocks and bamboo colms) had been tested in scientific labs from mexico city, to guaranty their quality for the building, and for the approval of the client and the building company. Local contractors were involved under a principle building company from Mexico City, who were responsible for the industrial production work such as concrete walls and steel structures, infrastructure as plumbing, electricity, etc.. For all the artisan work, the architects had to contract people from the villages to do it.
The architects were daily on site to check the building process, in some cases showing to the workers directly the way to execute it. Lots of the details were decided in the field due to the imperfection of the natural and artisan materials like adobe, bamboo, sculpted stone, or the hand made bricks (with the texture of the finger prints) of the artisan that makes every brick unique. The 800 m3 of the stone wall was made by 50 workers in 2 month, which was fixed with cal and sand 4 meters below ground level.