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Adobe for Women


Adobe for Women is a non-profit association, founded in 2011, whose goal is the recovery and education of earth construction techniques; this is our contribution to a more human and sustainable use of space and the planet’s resources. The goal is to build 20 sustainable houses in the indigenous village of San Juan Mixtepec, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The houses are intended for 20 women in difficult circumstances who will participate in the building process. They will slowly appropriate their future home while redefining their self esteem, work abilities and hope that will transform the spaces into safe, caring places for themselves and their families.

Why Focus on Women
In the indigenous village of San Juan Mixtepec, in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, 60% of the men (mostly youth and family heads) emigrate, mainly to the United States. 84.5% do not return.

Thanks to a Kickstarter, $5K will go to Agri-tecture Training for Women in Rural Mexico and another adobe house will be built with and by the women of San Juan Mixtepec. This training program and prototype will be the foundation to building a sustainable social enterprise for the community.

In April, the Agri-tecture team will be working alongside 20 women in the village to design and construct an off the grid building made from appropriate materials such as clay and bamboo. Stay tuned for updates as we document the project's evolution through stop frame animation, interviews and a series of large format photographs.

What is Agri-tecture?
Yeah, we were wondering when you were going to ask that. 1 in 2 buildings on the planet are made from natural building materials yet most R&D is focused on the glassy metal pointy ones. Agri-tecture is the marriage of the built and natural building environment...If buildings were vegetarians they would be argi-tecture.

p.s. It's not too late to back this project. Anything over $5K will go towards additional homes.
Click here and raise more to build more.

The Global Team
20 Women of San Juan Mixtepec, Mexico;
Juan José Santibañez, Oaxaca, México;
Caeiro + Capurso, Oaxaca, México and Barcelona, Spain;
blaanc borderless architecture, Lisbon, Portugal and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Education Outreach Collaboration
Architecture for Humanity, Alix Ogilvie + Nathaniel Corum;
Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC), Giovanna Carnevali;
Master in International Cooperation, Sustainable Emergency Architecture part of the Erasmus Mundus Program of the European Union

Design + Construction

The houses are energy efficient and built with local materials such as adobe and bamboo, and cost only 3 830,84€ ($5,000 USD (the price of half a square meter in Paris or Amsterdam or a square meter in the Baltic capitals)). The structure sits within a simple, rectangular plan, formed by two nuclei: one private and one public.

Each one is formed by two intersecting arches that cross in the center and define the uses below. This allows for ample space despite the relatively small footprint. The patio is an outdoor extension of the house directly connected to the kitchen. It is supported by a wood structure lined with bamboo that further defines the space and forms a translucent screen for shading - open to vibrant natural surroundings and socializing.

The single story house is punctuated by the color on the doors, which can vary depending on personal preference, and will use strong colors characteristic to Mexico. The variety of textures present in the adobe, bamboo and roof tiles contribute to a richer and more harmonious structure.

Project Advantages
Ecological: Regional and biodegradable materials.
Social: Strengthens community work.
Structural: All walls are structural.
Economical: Resource efficiency.
Cultural: Promotes the use of and integration with the local vernacular.

Energy + Resources

To take full advantage of solar energy, small solar panels will be installed to convert the energy from the sun into electricity. Anticipated use: 4 light bulbs, 1 television and 1 radio (the average amount of appliances used in this municipality).

Rainwater from the roof is diverted, collected, and filtered through gravel, plants, and coal. The greywater will be used in the kitchen, bathroom, and for the vegetable garden, generating greater independence on external water supplies.

The composting toilet is a system used in bathrooms where, instead of using water for flushing, urine and feces are stored and broken down through aerobic processes that produce nutrient-rich products for the soil. The toilets require no water thus eliminating the dangers of ground contamination. A chamber where feces and urine (combined or separated) are stored is exhausted to allow hot air to rise, leaving the indoor spaces with fresh air.

Composting is a biological process where micro-organisms break down organic matter, such as manure, leaves, paper and food scraps in a substance similar to soil known as compost. Other than reusing a part of domestic rubbish, compost improves the soils structure and is an excellent fertilizer.

The Estufa Lorena is an energy efficient, traditional stove that uses less wood to cook than normal wood stoves. It is basically a closed box of mud and sand with a chimney. The wood is placed inside the box and the food is heated from the hot smoke. This system reduces wood consumption by 60% and improves the air quality in the kitchen.


San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca


Project Details

NAME: Adobe for Women
PROJECT LEAD: Juan Santibañez with CaeiroCapurso + blaanc borderless architecture
LOCATION: San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
START DATE: March 13, 2011
CURRENT PHASE: In construction
COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: the women of San Juan Mixtepec