Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura Social Housing Production
Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura
Comunal is a prototype for social housing with a modular design, including two trusses and an interchangeable panel.
This prototype by Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura, co-designed with the Cooperativa Tosepan Titataniske, was created to follow the 2016 criteria of Mexico’s National Housing Commission that prohibited government funding for designs using traditional materials (such as straw and bamboo) and techniques. Therefore, it avoids using bamboo as the primary structural element. The prototype was built in under a week, using blocks, concrete, imported bamboo, and ECOLAM. The walls are made from prefabricated panels coated with ixtle, a local vegetable fiber, and then mortar. It follows the local tradition of aligning the spaces around the main hall.
*Please note that building designs are being included as “products” in the Habitat Sector of the Solutions Library to allow readers to learn from how projects were designed and constructed and how they serve the occupants, whether effective or ineffective.
Approximately MXN 110,000 (USD 5,500 as of June 2021)
The design was made for the First National Contest for Rural Housing, so it competes with the rest of the designs for government funding.
It can also be compared with Oga’i House, LIFT House, and Multipurpose Hall in Kenya.
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Comunal was designed for local indigenous people, Nahuas.
First, the steel, bricks, and bamboo are transported to the site in pieces and then assembled on site. The walls include bamboo (exported from the US) panels coated with a local tissue known as ixtle. These slot on top of breezeblock bases. Then bamboo trusses and beams lie above these walls to form a mono-pitched roof.
With the same bamboo, window and door shutters are made. In addition to the windows, some walls are featured with natural ventilation caused by lattices of red bricks.
Building designs generally fall under architectural copyright.
The design is a prototype, and so there is no provision model to date. However, it is eligible for government funding.
Only this prototype exists so far (As of June 2021).
Indication of whether design can be replicated in multiple locations
Number of individuals. 1 family = 5 persons.
Number of days from start of construction to completion
Surface area of footprint
Number of occupiable floors (ground floor only = 1)
Primary materials used
Composite estimated R-value
As calculated by designer
As calculated by designer
Based upon primary structural system as per the International Building Code
Based upon Structural Occupancy Category and soil conditions of site; as per the International Building Code
List of suitable climates for use of this design
The design is composed of a structural frame that is assembled on-site and then fitted with prefabricated panels. The primary materials are bamboo (40%), concrete (30%), and ECOLAM (10%). The bamboo panels are covered in ixtle, a local vegetable fiber. Some walls are brick lattices that allow for ventilation, especially in the kitchen where the smoke needs to be removed. The roof is made of ECOLAM, a local metal sheet made from food-grade recycled aluminum. The design has two bedrooms, a bathroom, the main hall, a kitchen, and a porch. The local people were trained in making the panels so they could provide maintenance and be able to replicate the technique.
The locals were trained to give maintanance.
The mortar could need retouching, and the windows and doors could be replaced if needed.
Performance targets include: being able to be constructed in a week by locals, having a sustainable focus, and being appropriate to the social, cultural, and economic context.
Abraham Aragón Vásquez is a civil engineer who oversaw the project.
People working on the construction are subjected to the risks it entails; heights, heavy objects, and tools.
The design won the silver medal for the first National Rural Housing Projects contest. It also won the AR emerging Architecture Award in 2019.
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