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Casa Mulata by RootStudio: an encounter between the present and the architectural legacy of Oaxaca

Project name:
Casa Mulata
Architecture firm:
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico
Carlos Lang and Marian Papworth
Principal architect:
Joao Boto Caeiro
Design team:
Ana Hernandez (Art). Trine Ellitsgaard (textile). Dalí (PhotoArt). El Negro Ibáñez (PhotoArt)
Interior design:
Built area:
144 m²
Site area:
81 m²
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Nicolas Coello
Environmental & MEP:
Tools used:
Wood . Metal . Earth . Lime . Brass . Black Concreto . Brick . textiles . Leather
Yoya & Tavo
Residential, House, Hotel

RootStudio creates a unique space where the rigor of restoration and the elements of sustainable building meet, signatures of the internationally recognized architecture firm.

A subtle transition between two periods that cœxist in harmony the colonial and the contemporary period describes the essence of Casa Mulata, a residence that offers distinctive accommodation, the work of RootStudio, led by the architect João Boto Cæiro.

Casa Mulata is an exercise that emerges from the restoration of three sections of an old mansion house whose construction dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, located in the center of Oaxaca. A modern timber-clad structure has been integrated into it to create two unique spaces in which the meeting of the past and the present is masterfully expressed. The original area of 81 square meters, with its pre-existing adobe walls, was used to achieve an environmental dichotomy between its two levels, nestled behind the old facade.

On the main floor, an intimate area was created with a kitchen, living room, a first bedroom and a full bathroom that, together, evoke the elegant and the classic through a play of different textures, materials, and the hues of a neutral color palette.

The upper floor is characterized by its warm and contemporary atmosphere, thanks to the use of recovered wood a sustainable construction element in walls, floors, and ceilings. Boto Cæiro designed a double-height space to give the property greater flexibility, with a second room in a mezzanine and a terrace with panoramic views of the mountains of the Valley of Oaxaca.

In the process of raising the contemporary volume, RootStudio respected the infrastructure of the original building, its terracotta walls and the ceiling vaults. The new structure was incorporated in such a way that it could be removed meaning it is not anchored to restore the primordial state of the property.

Casa Mulata’s signature is defined as the fusion between the old and the avant-garde, something that is also expressed in its sober atmospheres, in black and white with organic accents. The design of the furniture and decorative elements, such as the lamps, was carried out by the studio and executed in collaboration with local master artisans, who availed of their expertise in textiles, pottery, and cabinetmaking.

Rustic and natural elements occupy a dominant place, establishing a link with the characteristics of the physical environment, which is made present through endemic materials, such as clay, tropical woods such as nopo, pine and tzalam, earth- and lime-based paints, and vegetation.

For this project, RootStudio worked together with artists such as Trine Ellitsgaard and Ana Hernández, both specialized in textile research and experimentation, and the photographs of Alberto Ibáñez and Dalí Nelio.

Casa Mulata is a unique space designed by RootStudio, a sustainable architecture studio with world-renowned projects in Mexico, Mozambique, and Ghana, which reconsiders the value of traditional building techniques while incorporating the principles of bioconstruction and social responsibility.

About RootStudio

Based in Oaxaca City and directed by João Boto Cæiro, RootStudio was founded in 2010 as a multidisciplinary studio that encompasses architecture, design, illustration, painting, and sculpture.

By Liliana Alvarez

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