Casa Estudiantes offers a place for 16 students from foster care to cohabit and continue their university studies. The double staircase connects the main spaces for eating, working and resting. The exterior is surrounded by terraces and planters that help clean and refresh the air inside. Pigmented cement covers the walls matching the color of the natural adoblock. The composition of volumes and finishes follows the conceptual idea of a house, linking a residential area to a commercial area and allowing its inhabitants to identify it as their home.
Rancho Santa Martha, is a Casa Hogar that provides studies to low-income children, Casa Estudiantes is the lodging for them to continue their university studies. The architectural program was as follows; Women's room with bathroom, men's room with bathroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, caretaker's room with bathroom, laundry room and parking. The dimensions of the property are 13 meters on a secondary street and 16 meters on a primary street, with a 15-minute walk to the university, close access to trucks and markets, it is the ideal location for the development of the project. When presenting the draft, the managers were delighted with the possibility of adding terraces and double bathrooms in the rooms, as well as an exclusive space for the study and TV room with its own terrace, the integration of a backyard that joined the dining room, providing greater visual space and a 9m3 cistern to store water.
The lodging needs were 4 bunk beds per room and a Queen bed for the manager, making a total of 18 people, so we took great care of the feeling of overcrowding. To this end, all the spaces were given greater height, with the kitchen/dining room standing out with 3.15 free meters. The rooms have independent terraces and flower boxes that help keep the air clean and fresh; the main axis are the stairs, connecting all the spaces, uniting them visually and working as a passive fireplace, keeping the house ventilated.
The visual connection between the kitchen and the study was very important since they are the spaces with the greatest influx. To link these spaces, a level change was proposed that causes the study and the women's room to be projected on different levels despite being located on the 2nd level and without a direct connection. One of the most important indications of the managers was that the men's and women's rooms were not directly connected, this to avoid any incident that represented a risk for the young people and the people in charge. The solution, two independent stairs that are located in the same space, but in opposite directions, keeping access to the women's stairs in front of the manager's room and the men going up first to the study and then to their room, connecting the spaces and promoting coexistence without neglecting the safety of all its inhabitants.
We took great care of the scale of the building as well as its urban impact in terms of materials and colors, being the only three-story building in the area, we wanted it to integrate into its surroundings from the first day it was completed, for these reasons the staggered construction moving away from the main avenue and with the minimum of solid perimeter fencing, only in the spaces where greater privacy is needed, the rest was covered with mesh and vines, taking care of the visual scale of the pedestrians who cross its sidewalks. The facades are covered by different planters that emphasize the staggering of the building, embellish the interior views of windows and cover its facades, protecting from the sun and bathing its walls with vines, shrubs, flowers and regional agaves, all low maintenance and with a system of irrigation, giving the building different colors each season. We firmly believe that gardens are an indispensable part of architectural work, which is why they are anchored to the structure of the project and to the basis of how Casa Estudiantes is inhabited.
We seek the greatest economic and constructive simplicity that will be integrated into the concept of the project. This is because it was built through donations. The walls are made of brown adoblock and common block covered by a plaster of the same color, the finish is thick and rough, made with a wooden trowel with the intention of not requiring maintenance and achieving a natural appearance. All the plants are from the region, some native and others adapted for years to the local climate, so they need minimal watering and maintenance. The interior floors are made of polished concrete and the exteriors are made of earth and gravel, permeating rainwater to the subsoil and keeping the building cooler without solar reflection. The staircase is made of a steel structure and pine wood steps, as are the closets, furniture and kitchen.
The upper cover is reinforced with Insulpanel, a highly thermal material that is easy to install with a clear finish on the outside to reflect the solar incidence.
The intervention of the project covers the adjoining sidewalks, improving the soil and integrating vegetation from the region, creating walkways surrounded by vines, trees and flowers.