Smart Adobe Houses To Help Women In Difficult Conditions In Mexico


Images: Adobe for Women.

Inspired by the work of Mexican architect Juan Jose Santibañez, who helped twenty women in difficult living conditions to build their own homes in Oaxaca twenty years ago, Portuguese architecture firm Blaanc Borderless and Mexican studio CaeiroCapurso have recently launched Adobe for Women.

The non profit organization aims to "help build a more sustainable and humanitarian future by recovering and teaching earth construction techniques," and its first project is the construction of twenty sustainable houses in the indigenous village of San Juan Mixtepec, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Why women? In Oaxaca, 60% of the men still migrate (mostly to the US) and 84% of them don't return home. Women are left alone with little resources, difficulty in accessing medical services, and children to look after.

The houses they've designed have a simple, rectangular plan and have sustainable technologies that will help women spend less and be more self-reliant, such as solar energy, water collection, a composting toilet, kitchen scraps composting, energy efficient stoves. As the name of the organization unveils, they are meant to be built with adobe bricks.

Each house has a cost of around 3830 euros (5504 US dollars), which Adobe for Women hopes to fund with donations.

According to the promoters of the project, despite the lack of resources they have teamed with women from the area and have begun construction of eight of the planned houses.

At the initiative's websites you can read some of the women's touching stories. Lucila Ramirez Chaves writes:

"I am 32 years old and I live in the municipal center. My husband died and I stayed with 4 children and I work in the fields. I don't have a house, I live with my mother-in-law. Sometimes she hurts me, abuses my daughters because they are lazy. I have been told about the project, I ask warmly that you help me please. My brother gave me a piece of land, the measurements are 10x15."

With all the discussions about smart living for urban dwellers, it's easy to forget how some towns and people can use designers' and architects skills to help them solve adverse situations.

For more on the project or to send contributions, head to their website.

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Tags: Architecture | Mexico