Rising from the ashes

Sunday 28 Feb 2010

Copalita School complete environmentally friendly, low technology building in inspirational relocation programme

During the rainy season of the year 2006, the Copalita River flooded after a unprecedented storm. This event destroyed part of the town and 300 people lost their homes. Copalita is a rural area located 10 miles from the sea and 15 miles from one of the most important resorts in Mexico, Huatulco.

The National Tourism Fund (FONATUR) was in charge of the relocation of the town. The main strategy consisted in urbanize a piece of land next to the original site with the same scale and density. The project area was donated by the federal government as well as the funding for the different projects of infrastructure. The Copalita School and public space are the main buildings of the civic centre as well as the open chapel which articulates a key role in the construction of the community identity, and this was one of the most powerful meanings for the definition of the local materials and the translation of spatial occupancy patterns. As part of the design brief, the project orchestrates a low cost technology solution in the hot weather environment. It combines natural light and ventilation eliminating the use of glass on windows and using heavy earth walls and ceramic lattice as a cross ventilation atmosphere solution. This earth architecture approach is also an ambitious statement which gives identity to the place. Externally, the school is developed around an existing natural garden where there was a basketball course and the community temporary chapel. The kindergarten and primary school buildings confine the existing trees creating recreational patios.

The People of Copalita officially opened the buildings during past 2009 easter. Today the school has 20 students who can continue with their academic development in a safety location.

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