Casa Mérida

Ludwig Godefroy
Mérida, México

Casa Mérida brings the traditional and the modern together in a sustainable project that also seeks to tie outdoor to indoor activity.

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© Photos: Rory Gardiner

Casa Mérida is a single-family house located in the historic center of the city of Mérida, capital of Yucatán and epicenter of Mayan culture. The region’s year-round high temperatures made its architecture develop a characteristic style that is a mix of colonial and tropical, with a cross ventilation system determining design. There has, however, been a desertion of typical forms, for which air conditioning is to blame, having become indispensable to residents, used even 24 hours a day. Given such abuse of new technologies, the main objective here was to take a step backward and try to hit upon an efficient and sustainable ventilation system for surviving intense heat, while staying true to Yucatán identity. The relationship between traditional and contemporary architecture is explored through vernacular references. The plot is a rectangle 80 meters long and 8 wide; unique proportions commensurate to a unique volume of concrete positioned along the longitudinal axis, crossing the grounds from the entrance to the rear of the property, with a swimming

pool at the end. Returning to the traditional ventilation system based on concatenating high ceilings and patios, the elongated form is part of the effort to reclaim Mayan culture, specifically the Sacbé: white limestone path connecting temples, squares, pyramids and wells in Mayan cities. The project appropriates this concept and materializes it with the support of a concrete wall stretching parallel to the longitudinal axis that organizes the house, acting as spinal column and main structural element, and also setting a hierarchy of circulation routes throughout the dwelling. To make the cross ventilation more efficient, reducing energy consumption, the house is ultimately disconnected from the city. The living room and kitchen are pushed closer to the pool at the back of the plot, where it is more peaceful and outside noise is minimized. The design inverts the traditional concept of a house with a garden, creating a garden with a house within it, which stays open and encourages outdoor life without sacrificing safety and privacy.

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