Costruire con la comunità (Building with the community)

Place: Oaxaca, mexico, North America
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 9.500,00 | Period: From November 2011 To June 2012


"Building with the community" is a cooperation project among the CRD-PVS of the Politecnico di Torino, the UNAM (Universidad Autonoma de Mexico) and the Archintorno Association. It is part of a larger project that the C.A.M.P.O NGO is being implementing since 2009, with the objective of promoting and facilitating a sustainable local development of the indigenous communities in the Oaxaca Region (Mexico). The experimental center in the village of Pensamiento Liberal Mexicano, which has been built by the italian and mexican students after a participative panning process and during a 3-months workshop, is a space to explore low-tech and low-cost innovative technologies, which will lead to a stronger local economy in the future. The built project was designed to incorporate local construction culture and improve thermal properties with local materials, resulting in the use of traditional tejamanil wood shingles and rammed earth walls.


Politecnico of Turin, Self-construction Technology Lab - Italy

Lead applicant

LATEC offers students the opportunity to learn and discuss about many themes (technological development, technological innovation, quality of the built environment) through workshops, seminars and internships demonstration held with companies, site visits and thesis support.

Archintorno - action through architecture - Italy

Initiative partner

Archintorno promotes and develops architectural projects that are linked to a culture of self-construction and recovery and contribute to the processes of self-development for communities. The participation and activation of networks of solidarity and cooperation amongst associations, governments and citizens is fundamental to our work.

Research and Documentation Centre in Technology, Architecture and City in Developing Countries - Italy

Initiative partner

The Centre promotes research activities aimed at improving habitats in extreme climatic or social conditions, and scientific events (exhibitions, conferences, workshops, seminars). CRD-PVS also participates in international co-operation and technical collaboration projects jointly with Institutions, Universities, National and International Organisation, and NGOs. It is engaged in University and Post-University teaching and co-ordinates the Specialization Course in Habitat, Technology and Development for architects and engineers interested in co-operation with developing and newly emergent countries. To those interested in investigating the issue about the habitat in the developing countries, CRD-PVS offers an information service with a specialised library.

A self-built Micro-Regional Centre to foster food security in Oaxaca (Messico)

Experimental Centre in Oaxaca is the outcome of the collaboration between the local community, the Politecnico di Torino, the UNAM – Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, the Archintorno Association, the C.A.M.P.O. NGO. This cooperation has been strong through all the steps: from the design brief drafting to the building construction. Following the idea of “learning by doing” students and local people learnt to built with pisé, a raw earth - based technology which is more appropriate to the local climate if compared to the traditional adobe. 
Moreover, the Centre is an innovation “farm” itself:  its objective is to promote and facilitate the use of appropriate technological innovations, respecting the local culture and maintaining a "low cost/high performance" approach to construction, in order to foster local empowerment and sustainability.



Pisé This building was an occasion to introduce the pisé technique, suitable to local condition: these are the formworks where earth is pressed.

We are in Pensamiento Liberal Mexicano, a small Mexican village. Here the severe nutritional deficiency of families is one of the main characteristics of food insecurity. These deficiencies are due to a lack of diversification and poor diet of meat, vegetables and fruit, and can be eliminated by producing different foods through home gardens, ponds for fish farming and cattle ranching.
Reduction of earth’s fertility, wood lack and poor agricultural production are central issues for the rural population pouring in situations of poverty.
The phenomenon of migration is characteristic of these areas: every year the number of young people, fathers or sometimes whole families move to the United States in search of work.
The fragile situation of families and principally women is weakened by lack of experience in innovative sustainable technologies in environmental and production processes.


The Micro-Regional Center of Technological Innovation was finished in 2012, it’s now fully operative and it’s used for the purposes for which it was created.

Finished Finishing adjustments before the inauguration
Let's learn! The Centre is open to everybody is interested in sustainable methods

This project was addressed both to Italian and Mexican parts, each of them could beneficiate in different way.

For Pensamiento Liberal Mexicano’s community:
- agricultural development, rural and economic development and the strengthening of food security ;
- social promotion, with particular attention to protection of women's rights, reinforcing of the role of indigenous women in the economy and promotion of family health food

For the students:
- exposure to the issues of international cooperation in architecture;
- knowledge of materials and building techniques in clay and wood;
- cultural and professional enrichment through interaction with the host community


Building together Students and residents shared different knowledge and culture
Design together Last detail design during building phase
Group photo All together before starting work

The building was realized by local builders in collaboration with 20 Mexicans and Italians students. The project was organised under the supervision of Politecnico di Torino, UNAM – Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, Archintorno, C.A.M.P.O. NGO.

One day's work How was life in building site?

First design phase was very long and articulated, because of the number of participant and points of view. Anyway it was difficult to find local building materials and sometimes there was bad weather condition: these complications hold the construction phase back.

The centre was built with local materials and traditional technologies, reducing environment impact. More, one of its aim is to protect and diffuse traditional and low-impact practices: greenhouses’ vegetables cultivation , composting of organic waste, photovoltaic systems, self-construction with compacted earth, energy saving wood-burning stoves and bird, rabbit and sheep farming. This will contribute to develop an eco-friendly economy

This project is a part of a bigger program developed by the C.A.M.P.O. NGO in Mexico.
This was the first of ten centres that are going to be built in Mexico, each of them with the aim to reinforce micro-regional’s processes, diversification of production, environmental conservation and technological innovation. 

The dissemination took two main directions: Mexico and Italy.
In Mexico, the centre is a reference for local communities and shares innovations to residents. More, C.A.M.P.O. NGO will train local residents to ensure that centres will work correctly.
In Italy, the project was presented by a conference at Politecnico di Torino and followed by conferences in others universities and at CUCS 2013. It was the argument of three architecture’s thesis and it’s going to be the theme of a book. Some open presentations and photographic expositions showed it to large public.
Also it was published on international magazines and it win Mexico’s 2014 Public Interest Design Award.




Photography exposition - Turin 2012 Portraits - selected photo
Photography exposition - Turin 2012 Culture - selected photo
Photography exposition - Turin 2012 Landscapes - selected photo
../file-system/small/doc ../file-system/small/doc Costruire con la comunità - link Summary and website link
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Palio del Grano Public presentation at Palio del Grano festival (SA), Italy
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Paper - CUCS 2013 Costruire con la Comunità was at III CUCS Congress - Torino 2013_ Imagining cultures of cooperation: Universities networking to face the new development challenges
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Poster - CUCS 2013 Costruire con la Comunità was at III CUCS Congress - Torino 2013_ Imagining cultures of cooperation: Universities networking to face the new development challenges