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Copalita School and Open Space by 128A Architecture & Urban Design, Huatulco, Mexico

128A Architecture & Urban Design’s civic centre containing a chapel, school and kindergarten provides vital community space for a popular tourist hotspot. Photography by Alejandro Gutíerrez

When destinations become popular tourist hotspots, prioritising the development needs of the local community can be easily overlooked. This project, however, designed by Mexico City-based 128A Architecture & Urban Design, is part of a regional strategy that seeks to readdress this balance, by providing key community nodes that sit among the numerous tourist developments in the Mexican resort of Huatulco.

Located on a triangular site built around an existing natural garden, the project encompasses a civic centre spread over three public buildings - a primary school, a kindergarten and a chapel - that together, create and define a shared public space for community and recreational use. Unified in their material expression, the buildings employ rammed-earth construction techniques and windows of unglazed ceramic lattice work, which allow plenty of natural light and ventilation.

The subtle stratification of tapering earth walls gives form to the painstaking craft employed by the team of builders, framed in fine concrete plinths, caps and columns, and resonant with the grain of the timber soffits. These warm, timber-clad surfaces extend out to form generous cantilevered eaves that bring additional shade and shelter to the buildings, and allow each structure greater command of adjacent open spaces.

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The school currently has 20 students attending. As part of this initiative, future planned projects include a milk shop and a Nixtamal shop that will sell traditionally cooked and ground corn.

Copalita School and Open Space

Architect 128A Architecture and Urban Design, Mexico City, Mexico

Project team Fernando Tepichín Jasso, René Pérez, Rubén López, Froylán Martínez, Fermín Rodríguez

Structural engineer Gerson Huerta

Services engineer Rodrigo López

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