Marina Vella: Traversa House - ISPLORA

Marina Vella: Traversa House


Marina Vella Arquitectura defines a new horizontal line in the Mexican landscape. A sustainable house linked to the local culture.


The TRAVERSA HOUSE is located in a cattle ranch in a vast area next to the town Tanlajas (Tan – place / lajas – stones in layers) in the Huasteca Potosi, one of the four regions of the Mexican State, San Luis Potosi. It’s climate is warm and humid, with an average temperature higher than 18ºC. The Coy river crosses the land and in the high season it overflows forming springs and fountains. The population of this area is of the Teneek ethnic group whose vernacular architecture is considered a cultural heritage of the Huasteca Potosina because of the building materials used, their construction tecniques as well as the preservation concepts of their environment.


Conceived as a long narrow strip in the landscape, integrating and mimetizing itself with it’s natural surroundings, the TRAVERSA HOUSE has three main guidelines. The first one is the requirements of use which defines it’s type as temporary housing for the owners and friends when they visit and supervise the area. The second one is to achieve a spatial contemporary architecture, while using and putting in value the constructive techniques and materials used by the Teneek vernacular housing. At the same time it has to be in accordance with the studio’s architecture principles honoring the constructive éléments and the study of the context regarding the climate needs of the area.


Taking in consideration these requirements the TRAVERSA HOUSE takes as it’s starting point the existing tamarindo trees, the sun’s path and the wind. With these main lines the program began decomposing in 4 modules for the social and bedroom zones, articulating it with a system of patios and circulation axis. Because of the diverse users it was important to establish a spatial organization of the program that would permit multiple simultaneous activities avoiding visual and accoustic encounters. The inclined lines that cross and form full and empty spaces manages to take advantage of the views and the circulation of the wind, framing the landscape and generating ventilated and welcoming spaces. An important project goal was to design a roof coverage resembling the effect generated by the treetops and at the same time defining the mountain lines.


The materials used are the Tanlajas stones, the local bamboo “guadua vellutina” known as Otate, (considered one of the most flexible and resilient species because of the closeness of the bamboo rings), and the earth of the ground. To protect the building from humidity stone was used in the external façades. To keep the living spaces fresh and nice, a constructive system known as “enjarre” (bahareque – green building in bio-construction), was used in the interior walls. The roof coverage is separated from the walls to generate a natural cross ventilation in the rooms and so avoiding any mechanical system. In the construction of the roof coverage parallel systems were used, present and vernacular, like curving the beams with the “sangrado” technique and the use of scaffolding and formwork in the structure. Mat or ironed bamboo from the specie old hamii were used for the ceiling and bamboo canisters for the friezes. Orejon Wood was used in the woodwork.

All materials were harvested from the Huasteca area.



  • Source: Media kit Marina Vella Arquitectura
  • Photographs: Juan José Didildox y Alfonso Cesar 


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