How to Design a House on a Narrow Plot? Examples in Mérida, Mexico
The city of Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán in Mexico, has experienced a significant architectural boom in recent years due to emerging talent that has gained recognition through awards and biennials across the country. With its tropical climate, the architecture in this region responds to specific geographical conditions, making it one of the most visited destinations. Mérida is a city that was built upon the remnants of the Mayan city called T’Ho and is composed of a rich culture that combines different moments in history. As a result, the contemporary architecture of this region incorporates traditional elements such as vaults, lattices, and sustainable traditional finishes that are reinterpreted to create a new language that reflects the present moment in which they were constructed.
Understanding the contemporary architecture of Mérida through its history and territorial planning is essential to analyze all the components that comprise it. One characteristic of the lots in this area is that they are distributed in a way that the front facade has a significantly smaller dimension compared to the depth of the plot, which poses a challenge in architectural design. However, the professional community located in this region has mastered the art of distributing spaces in houses, including small pools and vegetation, turning these homes into oases.
Here is a list of houses in Mérida with the characteristic of being built on narrow plots.
Naked House / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“The challenge begins with the dimensions of the plot, which is a residual urban space resulting from subdividing a family house. The 6.5 x 27.5 meter plot with a west-facing facade was not the most encouraging for the housing needs. The solution addressed the issues of west-facing sunlight and the difficulty of cross ventilation in all spaces by creating a barrier with the service areas towards the west and separating the house from the northern boundary, leaving only 80 cm that allow for the creation of an “Air Chimney,” which functions successfully.”
Eva House / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“Eva House is a residence that adapts to the preexisting structure with 112 m2 of construction, a very narrow and anonymous facade where the design proposal leads us to work on an idea of a free plan leaving the structural elements in evidence. The pool welcomes you to the house, creating a surprising element within the traditional scheme.”
Casa Pitahaya / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“The recovery of houses in Mérida, Yucatán has revealed the different variations in their aesthetic and programmatic characteristics, and Casa Pitahaya is one of them. It is an introverted dwelling, dark and spatially unpleasant, due to the various alterations it has undergone throughout its life. The architectural proposal aims for a house that is naturally illuminated and ventilated in all the spaces that make up the architectural program. The preservation of most of the existing structure and its nature guided the arrangement and organization of the gardens, natural spaces that frame the project’s journey.”
El Nido House / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“El Nido House is built on a plot measuring 4.70 x 26.00 meters and arises as a response to the users’ needs for a space where experiences, attitudes, and ideas can be generated. It weaves together an existing building and a completely new one, creating a junction with an empty space and giving prominence to the new building as a large protective envelope for its inhabitants.”
Star House / Xavier Salas Arquitectos
“The main entrance is adorned with a double-height vestibule, enclosed by a lattice adorned with climbing plants that serve to soften the afternoon sunlight. The living area flows open towards a large window overlooking the main garden, which serves as the heart and lung of the house. The double-height dining room and kitchen feature sliding doors that offer a view towards the central courtyard, creating a sense of spaciousness and promoting integration between the interior and exterior spaces.”
Casa Lorena / Workshop, Diseño y Construcción
“Casa Lorena is located in the center of Mérida and is part of what was once a mansion from the early 20th century. Currently, the property has been subdivided several times, resulting in its current dimensions with just 4.5 meters of frontage, a quarter of its original size. The house features a small setback from the facade, which is uncommon to find in the city center, and creates a small entrance porch.”
Cocol House / Workshop, Diseño y Construcción + Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“Cocol House was originally part of an old mansion from the Porfiriato era, which over time was subdivided until it reached its current dimensions: 165 square meters of surface area. With the exception of the eclectic-style pastel blue facade, the color palette used throughout the rest of the house consists of neutral and raw tones, including the pasta tile floors, walls, beams, and exteriors made of white cement and chukum. The intention was to create a fresh and tropical space through the use of vegetation, furniture, and wooden pieces in natural shades, where art played a prominent role in the space.”
Casa-Estudio 49 / Reyes Ríos + Larraín Arquitectos
“Casa-Estudio 49 is a proposal for the specific insertion of modern architecture in the Historic Center of Mérida, designed to adapt to two possible different uses. The project is situated on a lot measuring 5 meters in frontage by 17 meters in depth, between party walls. This plot was previously occupied by a stone masonry construction that had undergone irreversible major transformations and had to be demolished.”
Vivienda Progresiva MZ / TACO taller de arquitectura contextual
“The municipality of Kanasín is part of the metropolitan area of the city of Mérida, which has experienced significant population growth due to immigration driven by the search for better job opportunities in the Yucatán capital. This has resulted in a large number of irregular settlements and all the problems that come with them, including a lack of urban services, crime, and the weakening of social fabric. The housing program consists of a scheme where individuals have access to a plot of land in an urbanized area. They are provided with financing and technical assistance to enable them to obtain a decent home. The homes are designed holistically using a methodology based on contextual analysis, allowing for a specific yet versatile product. This approach aims to connect the inhabitants with their surroundings and make it feasible to live in consolidated communities.”
Deco House / Taller Mexicano de Arquitectura
“The project arose from the need to restore an old house located in the historic center of Mérida, Mexico. Casa Deco is one of the few houses in Mérida’s historic center that is characterized by the architectural style that bears its name. However, this style was not the original style of the house but rather the result of a facade remodeling. Therefore, we decided to highlight both the formal and functional aspects that the house has undergone throughout its long life. The project seeks to reinterpret the “downtown house” lifestyle, hence the importance of the backyard, balconies, and terraces. Given its age, various spaces were modified to achieve better functionality suitable for the era, while always respecting its historical character.”
Kaleidos House / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“The proportion of 1 to 17 of the lot between its width and length did not prove to be an impediment to creating a unique, innovative residence with spaciousness as its key feature. The materials used in its construction become its strongest allies, allowing for a contemporary proposal that successfully resolves a functional 3-bedroom home within 280 square meters.”
Canela House / Workshop, Diseño y Construcción
“In the heart of the historic center of the city of Mérida, just a few steps from Palacio Cantón on Paseo de Montejo lies Canela House. This former mansion from the early twentieth century, hidden behind its understated colonial facade, houses a two-bedroom residence spanning 155 square meters.”
Casa del Limonero / Taller Estilo Arquitectura
“The Casa del Limonero is a single-family home that is developed over two floors. Compositionally, it is divided into two clear sections: the first area where the main entrance from the street is located, occupied by the pre-existing construction, and a subsequent area where the bedrooms and central courtyard are situated. The central courtyard serves multiple purposes, including a terrace, pool, and connections with the new building. It also functions as a distribution space since, in addition to housing the start of the staircase, it provides access to the rear bedrooms.”
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