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Cocina de Amparo Mendoza. Construcción tradicional en Centeocala, Mixteca Poblana, México.

GRAVA Taller de Arquitectura

Centeocala, Chiautla de Tapia, Puebla, Mexico

March 2023


Karen Elí Vigueras Acatitla (Creative Director), Saulo Roberto Román Barrera (Creative Director)



Cirino Mejía Rivera, Amaro Mendoza Aguirre


Cristopher Rogel Blanquet


Although the massive introduction of industrialized materials to the Mexican market at the end of the 19th century, the historical processes of urbanization and the migratory processes from rural areas to the United States have caused an effect of rejection and stigmatization to the traditional construction systems, associating them with “backwardness” and poverty; situation that has led to the loss of an important part of the traditional heritage; Most of the kitchens in Centeocala, conserve their traditional material characteristics, keeping the “chiname” as construction system.

The main objective of the project focuses on three axes: it respects the uses and customs of the village's daily cooking, as well as the social and leisure activities that, in parallel, take place in traditional kitchens. It keeps the traditional construction systems that are efficient to the high temperatures. And it contemplates improvements to the structural technical processes, matching the configuration of the kitchen to the contemporary way of rural living.
Typologically, the traditional kitchen is configured in relation to the other areas that integrate de house, giving more importance to the activities and the time spent in them. Most of the domestic and social activities take place in the kitchen.

Crossed by an anthropological vision, the project understands architectural work as a practice developed for and with people. The work developed with Amparo's family is the result of the sum of technical and ancestral knowledge, the use of local materials, and the self-production processes.


The project responds to the conditions, needs and contemporary way of life of Amparo Mendoza's family, who are one of the 40 families that live in Santiago Centeocala, located in the Sierra Mixteca Poblana, southeast of the state of Puebla in Mexico.

On the hills of Centeocala, village of Nahua origin, you will find the oldest vestiges of its population: Mesoamerican Postclassic cave paintings dating (950-1521 AD). Its history is painted on the Códice de Coetzala (16th century) and the Relación Verdadera de Fray Bartolomé de la Vera Cruz (1571) where it is described as a small and remote village, that belonged to the Triple Alianza de Quiauhteopan, a mining indigenous area.

The Centeocala families have a close relationship with their territory, related their times and rhythms of life with it. They dedicate their days to rainfed crops, raising animals and weaving fishing nets to use it when the Nexapa River, which runs next to the villege, allows it.

The kitchen and patio, typologically connected, are the heart of the home, in that areas the families cook, eat, rest, talk, receive guests and work. Its construction in palm, wood and earth; legacy of its uses, customs and traditions, cultural heritage of the region; They are evidence of the use of local materials, as well as their efficiency in the face of temperatures that rise to 38ºC in the region.


In Centeocala the days are spent working in the fields, and the afternoons are spent relaxing and spending time with the family in the kitchen and the patio. Currently, Amparo's family, which a few years ago cooked under a metallic roof with four wooden supports, spends time in their kitchen, where they eat, receive visitors, rest, knit, and live together as a family, and if the If the heat rises too high, they also sleep there. The family has built an emotional bond with it, crossed by the process of materializing their own house.

Observation, social and the natural environment analysis, as well as coexistence with the family, were fundamental to understand the architectural problem and for the design approach, working in an appropriate one to customs and family needs.

The feasibility of traditional systems was reaffirmed in the contemporary context of Centeocala, enabling the transmission of traditional construction knowledge to new generations, allowing them to observe how local materials adapt efficiently to their environment; Amparo's son shares the excitement of knowing that he can build his own house.

The project involved identifying our role in the community, as an opportunity to rethink our architectural practice, taking a respectful stance with knowledge, culture, traditions, and the natural environment, and working with Amparo's family. The development of the project was made possible by CONAVI, through the National Reconstruction Program, who subsidized the families of the localities.

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