Domus Peepem offers sustainable, minimalist Mexican housing in Cancún
Kiltro Polaris, Wewi Studio and JC Arquitectura collaborate on a new minimalist housing project in Cancún, Mexico
Located in Cancún’s Colonia Donceles, a neighbourhood developed in the 1980s as a social housing complex for workers, Domus Peepem is part of a range of new schemes and interventions that aim to revive the area sustainably, after the destruction it suffered during the 2005 Hurricane Wilma. Three emerging architecture studios, Kiltro Polaris, Wewi Studio and JC Arquitectura, joined forces to make this Mexican housing project happen, diligently crafting its warm, minimalist architecture, while coordinating with its context and environmentally friendly principles.
Working with construction methods and materials familiar to the local labour force, the architects employed a concrete frame and mortar, polished clay, wood, and a decorative plastic paste on top, creating soft, textured surfaces that envelope the homes. Meanwhile, natural stone makes for gentle accents in the bathrooms. Traditionally, the area was occupied by single-family houses, but this plot being a newly developed parcel of land, the team was able to build higher, creating a boutique apartment building spanning four levels tall. Opposite, a public space was also re-activated through the development.
The materials’ natural feel and the design’s overall pared-down approach make for a tranquil domestic environment. At the same time, the scheme is friendly to the environment too, using solar cells and motion sensors, as well as various passive technologies throughout (namely light and ventilation strategies which help save energy).
‘Designing an efficient structure allowed us to build in a simple and economical manner: during construction, building processes were reduced to a minimum in order to generate an honest architecture, without cosmetics and quick execution,’ say the architects.
The team was also consulted in the choice of furnishings inside, so now-iconic design items such as Hans J Wegner’s ‘CH24’ (Wishbone) chair coexist with bespoke furniture and off-the-shelf pieces. Care was taken to compose every corner of Domus Peepem while creating architecture that is economical and efficient. As a result, the building is now occupied by a truly diverse range of inhabitants, the architects point out – from families to professional couples, and tourists, who rent short-term.
‘The beauty of Domus Peepem is that it has no frills,’ say the architects. ‘It is what it is because of its construction systems, its spatial quality, and its efficiency. It has no greater pretension than to offer well-built, compact housing in a suitable location that is well-lit and ventilated. It can be adapted to each inhabitant and contributes to the regeneration of an area of the city.’ §