Culture Centre and Kindergarden (CADI) Tlatenchi represent two projects developed jointly, although on separate sites commonly referred to as "residual lots". When approaching the creation of public spaces, it is crucial to maximise their potential beyond established boundaries, and in this particular case, to focus on generating intersections, concentration and meaning.
Tlatenchi is a community belonging to the municipality of Jojutla in Morelos, both projects are integrated into a housing context so a design premise was to maintain coherence between the two projects, given that, although they are only a 5 minute walk from each other, they lack a direct physical connection. For this reason, an integration of the landscape and the structures was sought through the use of uniform materials in terms of colour, layout and structural solutions through a system of Catalan vaults, allowing both to be perceived as a single entity.
In both cases, the natural flows that residents used to have between one street and the other were considered, which implied the reintroduction of the original street formed by the path of previous use, the natural crossing. The concentration of individuals in these spaces generated a nodal point in each centre, which translated into a grandstand in the Casa de Cultura and a courtyard in the case of the CADI.
Reviving the vault - Meaning
A key feature was the contemporary incorporation of the brick vault, which in modern architecture allows to take advantage of its structural functionality, versatility and expressiveness. This approach involved a revision of the craft of the master bricklayer who builds it, whose knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation in Tlatenchi, as well as the integration of the materials with the particular dimensions of the site and the time in which it is found. This system, which local craftsmen master effectively, was implemented to cover large spaces without the need for intermediate supports and to improve the circulation of air inside the spaces.
Given the knowledge of the seismic susceptibility in the Jojutla region, a reinterpretation of the Catalan vault was chosen with the main purpose of avoiding the self-construction of multiple levels without adequate structural knowledge, to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred in the 2017 earthquake, where lack of planning and unadvised construction led to the damage or collapse of thousands of buildings.In construction terms, exposed load-bearing walls serve as the foundation of the structural system.These walls were created using extruded brick, while clay brick was reserved for the vaults. The materials extend to the courtyards, stairways and walkways, which are paved with familiar clay tiles.
As well, the area experiences a predominantly hot and humid climate for much of the year, the selection of materials in architectural design plays a key role in the thermal regulation of spaces. This is particularly important in public buildings that require low maintenance and where the option of air conditioning may not be feasible. Therefore, louvres and openings were incorporated to allow cross-ventilation to regulate temperature.
Each of these elements contributed to the coherence between the two plots as a whole. Authentic public space arises from genuine citizen participation, which gives rise to indispensable presences and forces that transform these spaces into environments of encounter and active participation beyond the physical structures. This vision allows them to be perceived as the central component of an enveloping sphere of activity.