20 by 20


The project will once again be developed in Oaxaca, this time in the Municipality of San Juan Mixtepec.
This region is still considered as one of the poorest in the country and is in dire need of this type of initiative.
Half of the people involved in the project live here and are able to accompany the whole process and teach new construction techniques to the community. Although it is a small and humble project it can easily be reapplied to other regions of Mexico or the world.

Twenty years later, 60% of the men, mainly young family heads between 15 and 24 (approximately 50,8%) still immigrate mostly to the USA. 84,3% don’t even return to Mexico. Other than being left alone, most women have more than 3 children to look after along with the difficulty in having access to medical services (85% of the population).

Data of the Municipality of San Juan Mixtepec
In San Juan Mixtepec the houses still have small areas in basic conditions that serve several people. Around 67,5% still only have one room. 59,3% of the houses don’t even have more than dirt for a floor and 68,3% don’t have either a fridge, television, washing machine or a computer.
We are looking at a rural environment where people and animals share the same space.

Twenty years later, even after several improvements in living conditions throughout the country, Oaxaca is still in a critical situation in comparison to the level of the other federal entities of the country.



Twenty years later, the architect Juan José Santibañez, wanted to relaunch the project of 20 houses for 20 women. With this intention, he joined forces with young architects, transmitting his knowledge and beginning a new cycle that is hoped to be continuous and timeless.

Some Projects:

1989 Centro Diocesano Pastoral
1997 Museu Regional e Biblioteca Pública de Huajuapan
2006 BS Biblioteca Infantil
2007 Museu Textil 

2006 BS Biblioteca Infantil
          Prémio CEMEX - Congruencia en accesibilidad
2007 Museu Textil
         Medalha de prata na X Bienal de Arquitectura Mexicana.


Rootstudio, is formed by architects João Caeiro (PT) and Fulvio Capurso (IT) who currently live in Oaxaca, México. They are especially dedicated to working with rural communities, having developed several sustainable projects and research on construction with local materials, specializing in earth and bamboo. They have organized Project and Construction workshops at the Faculdade de Arquitectura – Universidade Autónoma Benito Juarez in Oaxaca and are teachers of Artistic Design and Geometry at the Faculdade de Belas Artes. Efrain Vasquez (MX) is currently collaborating with Rootstudio.


2010 1st Prémio
         Emerging Ghana
         Open Source House Competition
         Cape Coast, Gana
2010 Winners - 25.000$USD Financing
         San Pedro Apostól - Rural Sports Center
         Nike/ Architecture for Humanity
         GameChangers Competition
         Oaxaca, México

Some Projects:

2010 Pavillion do Feira do Livro de Oaxaca,
          Oaxaca, MÉXICO
2010 San Isidro Chapel,
         San Bartolo de Coyotepec, MÉXICO
2009 Temazcal e Workshops on construction with earth and
          bamboo for the Women’s Civil Assotiation ofYu Xunaxi
          Zaachila, MÉXICO


blaanc borderless architecture is a young international design team made up of four architects. They are based in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and Perth, working mainly in Portugal and Brazil. One of blaanc’s main goals is to work with sustainable building and eco-affordable designs, with a special approach in contributing to better living conditions.


2010 1º Prize
         Emerging Ghana
         Open Source House Competition
         Cape Coast, Gana
2010 Winners - 25.000$USD Financing
         San Pedro Apostól - Rural Sports Center
         Nike/ Architecture for Humanity
         GameChangers Competition
         Oaxaca, México

Some Projects:

2010 Rehabilitation CASA MUSEU Fundação Medeiros Almeida
         Lisboa, PORTUGAL
2010 Rehabilitation Apartment Leblon
         Rio de Janeiro, BRASIL
2009 Interior Design Club House Palmela Village Golf Resort
         Palmela, PORTUGAL
2008 Interior Design Single Family House of Manuel Tarré
         Loures, PORTUGAL


Mexican’s students group, interested in working with their own hands, experimenting all the possibilities they can reach. They are involved in projects with several communities of the state of Oaxaca, such as the coordination and construction of the Adobe for Woman houses, the construction of the Rural Sports Center of San Pedro Apóstol, and the participation in the organization of Vernacular Architecture events. They also travel trough the villages of that region, recognizing their architecture.
Casa Tierra’s movement main goal is to contribute to a more human Architecture.
(María, Josué, Alberto, Samantha, Alicia, Josué... and it is growing)




The house has a simple, rectangular plan. The interior spaces are articulated via bearing walls that subdivide the house into a social area (kitchen and living/dining room) and a private area (bedrooms and toilet) and at the same time are a reinforcement to the perimeter walls, necessary in Oaxaca as this is a region with high seismic activity. The roof is built with a wooden structure and tiles that, according to local tradition, allow the removal of rainwater from the building and lowers the height of the lateral walls.
The location of the openings varies depending on the orientation, surroundings of each plot and the needs of each of the women.

The one floor house is punctuated by the colour on the doors, which can vary depending on its occupants and should use strong marking colours, which is characteristic to Mexico.
The variety of textures present in the adobe, bamboo and roof tiles contribute to a richer and more harmonious entirety.

The houses implementation, other than the simple and isolated version, may be implemented in the community two by two by sharing the patio area in the case of a larger family or close relatives, such as cousins or brothers.

Regional and biodegradable materials.
Strengthens community work.
All walls are structural.
Resource Optimization.
Integrates with the traditional houses and promotes local knowledge.


To take full advantage of the solar energy, small solar panels will be installed to convert the energy from the sum into electricity.
It is expected that they allow the use of:
4 light bulbs
1 television
1 radio
(the average amount of appliances used in this municipality)

A deposit collects rain water from the roof and it is re used for watering the vegetable garden, the kitchen and the bathroom. This way the women are less dependent on external water supplies.
Other than the reuse of water, a treatment system will be implanted through the use of a grey water filter made up of gravel, plants and coal. This water may be used to water the vegetable garden.

The “Composting Toilet” is a system used in bathrooms where, instead of using flush water or sewage systems, urine and feces are stored and treated through composting turning them into nutrient products for soil. There is no use of water, therefore there is no water waste and water contamination is avoided. It is similar to a composting system, as oxygen is also needed for the process to take place.
A chamber where feces and urine (combined or separated) are stored is connected to a tube or chimney to allow hot air to rise leaving the indoor spaces with fresh air.

Composting is a biological process where microrganisms transform organic matter, such as manure, leaves, paper and food left overs, in a substance similar to soil known as compost. Other than reusing a part of domestic rubbish, compost improves the soils structure and acts as a fertilizer.

The Estufa Lorena is an energy efficient, traditional stove that uses less wood to cook than normal wood stoves. It is basically a closed box of mud and sand with a chimney. The wood is place inside the box and the food is heated from the hot smoke. This system reduces wood consumption by 60% and improves the air quality in the kitchen.


Adobe bricks are made of a mixture of mud (clay and
sand) mixed with straw, molded in the form of a brick
and dried in the sun.

A mixture is made of:
70% clay
30% sand and water
The mixture is put in molds and left to dry in the sun
for about 25 to 30 days.
To avoid cracking while under the sun, straw and
manure is added as a reinforcement.

How to Test:
First, choose a place where soil with more clay can be
found and used for construction.

Then capability is tested the following way:
1- Make a plastic-like and moldable mixture, place it
in a wooden box of 40cmx4cmx4cm.
2 - Leave to dry.
3 - When the mixture rises with a curve in the centre,
the soil cannot be used. It should shrink.
4 - Measure how much it shrank. Shouldn’t be more
than 4cm.
5 - After 15 days of drying, a few more tests should be
made to prove resistance.

For the second test, the adobe bricks should be dry.
1 - Place two bricks apart with an interval of more or
less 30cm.
2 - Put a third brick over the first two and stand on top,
if it does not break with the weight of one human it is
good quality.



Materials and manpower needed for each house.