About This Project

Oaxaca 2011 – El Mirador

It’s a great experience to step outside your comfort zone and see a project from start to finish. Its much more than building, its also a great team project to share with new friends. Its very unique to be able to travel, build a design in a week, and have the opportunity to get to know the people you are working for.

– Caitlin K. University of Oregon

Thanks to all our participants and congratulations on winning the 2012 AIA Minneapolis Merit Award!

Over six days in March, 2011, RAW participants designed and built El Mirador, the Lookout, in partnership with the community of San Pablo Etla near Oaxaca City, Mexico. The village members communally own 10,000 hectares of land that stretches from the agricultural Etla valley to the pine studded mountains of the Sierra Norte. Like other growing communities, San Pablo Etla strives to balance the progress of modern living with the management of their natural resources. Perched In the foothills of the Sierra Norte, with a commanding view of the Etla Valley below, El Mirador serves as a key element in the plans to reclaim the flora of the communal land and prepare it for a more sustainable future.

Working alongside community members, students gained an intuitive sense for common systems such as timber construction, and for local materials like carrizo, a bamboo-like grass unique to Central American climates. The process of design and construction gave students the opportunity to expand their architectural knowledge, and the rich collaboration with the local Oaxacan community made the experience unforgettable.