In Feb 2017, the Casa Naomin family approached us to build a small cabin for them, using volunteerism as a method to gain labor and resources for the construction. Casa Naomin runs a modest family-run yoga school, located deep in the forests of Santa Rosa de lima, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2019
Second Award | Category: Housing (Upto 5 Floors) (Built)

Architect: Varun Thautam
Country: Mexico

Cabin for Casa Naomin by Varun Thautam - Sheet6They have, over the past years been building up a space for themselves with limited resources and their own hands. As the centre is an hour away from the nearest town and one passes through a tough terrain to get to the site, bringing materials to the site has always been a challenge.

Cabin for Casa Naomin by Varun Thautam - Sheet1Materials were all to be sourced locally from the forest / nearby villages. Apart from locally sourced timber, brick and mud were the resources to be used owing to its low cost and easy access. Cost and materials were optimized to accommodate 5-6 people in a cabin of under 30 m2 of built-up area. Space was to be optimized to optimize costs and time of construction. The form was to evolve from tight constraints.

Cabin for Casa Naomin by Varun Thautam - Sheet4To reduce costs the project was designed to be built with inexperienced participant labor in a workshop setting; a majority of the cabin was to be built in a week. The clients were to host a group of participants, provide them with food and hospitality for the week of the workshop. The architect’s experience as a mud mason and a trainer was put to test, to guide inexperienced “participants” to build a complex form. A part of the labor too was to be sourced locally. Neighbors from adjacent farms were invited to work on the project in return for the learning process.

Cabin for Casa Naomin by Varun Thautam - Sheet3The project was thus divided into three phases.

  1. The pre-workshop, where the foundations and brick walls built by the client. Publicity was done to find the 18 participants who would pay about 360 USD each for the workshop.
  2. The second stage is the one-week intensive “mud building workshop” organized and hosted by the client. The challenge was to build about 50m2 of complex vaulting in 6 days.
  3. The clients then, post-workshop; were to complete the structure as time, taste and means permitted.