This time we chose one little corner in the beautiful neighborhood of Coyocán in Mexico city. Its architecture from the Spanish conquer and from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are national heritage, charged of history and countless historical events that transformed and impacted the urban planning and architecture in Mexico. Coyoacán is a fascinating place to see how people used to inhabit and plan their homes. It has a unique process of urban development where neighbors had participation in street planning and, most importantly, on the design of their own houses.

As the architect, Ernesto Alba Martínez, president of the College of Architects of Mexico, affirms, “Coyoacán responds to architecture, not to styles. The houses in this place are a reflection of its inhabitants and the materials they had.”

Closed fences, flattened walls, vertical and narrow windows, trellises, few windows to the street, an abundance of plants, large bushes, and fruit trees, as well as excessive use of tiles typical of Mexican architecture are some of the characteristics of “Coyoacanese” houses. Years ago, large amounts of volcanic rock laid on this area, which eventually dried and shaped the surface of this beautiful neighborhood. This surface that formed a volcanic rock floor derived various construction materials that influenced the construction of the buildings.

According to the architect, “Its shapes are due to its technology, materials, workmanship, and initiative, despite its modernity, there is a more or less homogeneous architecture in the central part.” One of the most notable characteristics of this neighborhood is that the facades, as well as the buildings themselves, have significant and characteristic elements of the political demarcation by the time of their construction. However, they do not obey a well-constituted language of architecture. It is the pure essence of the owners that emanates from these beautiful houses. So, one can appreciate the excessive usage of volcanic rock, but this is not for pure aesthetics, it is because volcanic rock is an excellent construction material that was obtained locally and founded in abundance down this area.

One of the most notable architects from the time of Coyoacán’s greatest urban development (early 1900’s) is Miguel Ángel de Quevedo. He was an engineer that also dedicated his career to design bridges, railways, and houses. He brought from Paris, the latest construction methodologies and technologies at that time. Also, Francisco de Guerrero y Torres contributed significantly to the construction of this area; specifically, he built the Casa de Alvarado.

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Photos by Mariana R.

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