MANGULICA HOUSE by Alberto Zavala Arquitectos

12_1292This house is located on the tropical coast of Yucatan, Mexico, its keynote idea being to confuse the borders existing between the “inside” and the “outside”. This duality gives rise to surprises and a constant awareness of situations occurring outside. Movement (motion) becomes particularly important, as does the change from day to night and the changing of seasons.

In order to converge with the outdoors, the architectural layout is created from a rectangular prism where sections have been removed thus creating “open spaces or courtyards”. These five inner courtyards are the architectural sources of the house. Through these, the indoor spaces benefit from natural lighting during the day, as well as cross-ventilation and privacy due to the walls that extend out and which add privacy.

The heart of the project is made up of two adjacent courtyards containing a fountain, and monolithic stairs leading up to a panoramic viewpoint. Both are separated by a covered walkway which opens out into a “T-shape” and that connects the private area with the service and social areas. In this area, one can enjoy the constant changes in light and shadow that occur during the day, and the babbling of running water in the background.

The other courtyards which act as “lungs” have different architectural treatments, such as high value texture-wise and visual-wise stone walls which contrast with the smooth indoor surfaces, bamboo-panel deck coverings, or courtyards that simply open completely up to the sky. Pre-existing palms along with coastal endemic vegetation were also preserved.

The indoor social area is a single space that combines the living, dining and kitchen areas. There are two outdoor sitting-area terraces that complement the house: one at ground level and one at the panoramic viewpoint. These spaces were designed as light, airy, ethereal environments, with bamboo-panel deck coverings that allow for shadows to filter onto the floor and walls in constant motion during the day.

This project is designed as a residential dwelling where there is peace and quiet, where movement is expressed through sensory experiences: light, shadow, texture, surprise, breeze, reflections, aromas, babbling water and birds singing

Sustainable features and aspects of the Project:

– Cross-ventilation in all areas, using a mixed system of louvered windows and sliding glass-pane windows.
– Effective use of natural lighting during the day.
– Making use of the regional work-force available and materials characteristic to the region.
– Effective use of rainwater from the roofs for household use.
– Wastewater treatment based on a biodigester (anaerobic digester) with zero subsoil pollution.
– Incorporation of regional endemic vegetation that require little maintenance and watering.
– Reuse latticework-type block walls preexisting on the perimeter of the property in an effort to extend their life cycle.
– Closure of the west side of the property with a coconut-palm rod fence, and a mesh-type weave using local artisan techniques.
– Use of sustainably exploited regional bamboo panels for the outdoor deck-covering areas.
– Architecture requiring low maintenance over time.
-Comprehensive use of “chucum” for final finish work on ceilings, walls and floors in order to achieve a more uniform appearance, as well as removing paint and other non-energy efficient and highly toxic finishes.
– Strategic placement of service areas such as bathrooms, corridors/hallways, and stairways in such a way that their location forms a thermal cushion for enhancing environmental comfort in the greater-used areas.
– Use of constant pressure and variable speed water recirculation systems for greater energy savings.



We are a prestigious Yucatán firm dedicated to architecture with 20 years of experience. We have a portfolio of over 150 projects which comprise economics, functionality, landscape architecture, interior design and bioclimatic design strategies.

In July of 2010, Arq. Alberto Zavala Aguirre, Architect and Office Managing Director, after being selected along with 30 architects from around the world, attended a Master´s level specialization on design in Sydney, Australia given by the international leader in sustainable architecture, Glenn Murcutt (winner of the Pritzker Prize, considered to be the Nobel Prize in Architecture). The design strategies and high-level knowledge acquired through this Master Class are suggested and applied so as to be of benefit to each project in the office.

A few relevant projects, among others, mainly in the Yucatán, Cancún and the Mayan Riviera are: Winner of the design competition and subsequent implementer of the Progreso parish church project; Winner of the design competition for “ Urban Entrances of Mérida”; Honorable Mention in the design competition for the IPEPAC Administrative Building in Mérida; Third place in the competition for the Administrative Building of the Mérida City Council; Marina-Yacht development “Paraíso” in Yucalpetén, Progreso.

We specialize in carrying out high-quality executive architectural projects, acting as coordinators when working in a team with various specialty and engineering firms and offices. Likewise, we supervise and verify that the construction fits the project, supplementing information or details as required during the construction work.

We offer construction services for all scales of residential, villa, real property projects, and so on. We have skilled and qualified labor teams for this which we have comprehensively worked with for 20 years, developing high standards in quality. Our “turn-key” concept encompasses being in charge of the facilities, services and/or infrastructure, the interior architecture of your project, as well as the landscape design.

Having accomplished diverse projects of this sort, we offer our experience to make your project a reality. We offer advice beginning with information regarding the characteristics of different coastal zones and how you should adhere to Decree 801. To that end, we coordinate efforts with registered offices specializing in conducting environmental impact studies.

We offer the handling of official matters with the authorities of The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) throughout the entire acquisition process of the relevant permits, as well as following-up on reporting requirements both during and upon completion of construction.

Our advice is comprehensive where criteria of a diverse nature are considered so as to make the best decision for the client and the environmental impact, for sustainable design strategies, economic/financial criteria, consultation with experts on environmental issues, specialized plans drawn up in the office to obtain permits, study of the best proposals in water treatment systems, as well as for sewage and waste systems, systems for alternate power generation, landscape design with vegetation native to the region, and so forth.

Achieving a quality of architecture that meets client aspirations, and to that end, taking into account the construction systems, the technology and materials of the region, an analysis of the specific conditions of the site intended for construction, as well as the weather conditions of the region, the local culture and that of our era.

Our proposals and design strategies have as an objective taking into account the useful life of the real property, taking care to keep client finances in mind when considering profitable cost-benefit criteria.

Our approach to design is down a path of research, analysis and clarification: striving to understand client goals, their needs and ideas, as well as their budget; analyzing soil and site conditions; studying construction systems, technologies and materials that best fit in terms of cost and quality; and taking into consideration the culture, lifestyle and the modern era we live in. As we respond to these inquiries and more, we began to discover architectural possibilities.

In designing, we seek to fuse together functionality and economics with the creation of high-end spaces that noticeably impact and thrill the user experience, therefore providing a better quality of life.

Inter-disciplinary work and coordination with experts from various fields amount to talents and abilities culminating in a level of high quality proposals.

In this day and age, having an ethical attitude and collaborating on the whole takes on great importance in attempting to reverse the climate change that puts the quality of life at risk for future generations. With this in mind, we propose architecture that is most in tune with the environment, as well as client finances, by depending on the putting into practice of passive techniques as applied to bioclimatic design,landscape design, as well as the opportunity for including alternate energy generating systems.


Street 18 #97 between 13 & 15 Depto. 101 Col. Itzimná. CP.97100 Mérida, Yucatán, México.

52+ (999) 926.02.04
52+ (999) 927.02.12


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