rammed earth, chukum and local materials complete residence in historic mexican hacienda

rammed earth, chukum and local materials complete residence in historic mexican hacienda


Espacio Kaab by Di Frenna arquitectos 


Di Frenna arquitectos designed Espacio Kaab, a residence located in the historic Nogueras hacienda in Colima, Mexico. The hacienda, originally established for sugar production in the early 1700s, was acquired by the family of internationally renowned artist Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo in the 1940s and remains a beautiful landmark of the community to this day. The house which looks out over a corner of the hacienda, honors this venue and its craftsmanship, as well as that of the artist who occupied it.

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central garden with access to the main terrace and outdoor bedrooms

all images courtesy of Di Frenna arquitectos



incorporating elements of the past


Designing in a place with so much history, mysticism, cultural impact, and architectural heritage, such as the area adjacent to the Nogueras hacienda in Comala, is the challenge that Di Frenna arquitectos (find more here) faced and fell in love with. The design of Espacio Kaab exists in dialogue with the hacienda, directing views towards the property as a poetic gesture to honor its location. In addition, the structure incorporates more concrete reflections of the hacienda’s influence, including the use of old preserved techniques and materials that were originally used in the complex.


This is one of the projects that has a significant impact, not only on the studio, but also on the community in Comala, who became involved by providing their ancestral knowledge through craft techniques developed by Rangel himself. In this way, the ironwork or the creation of reed ceilings are elements that generate an identity of their own in the residence itself.

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central garden with concrete baseboard and rammed earth walls



enveloped by the enchanting natural surroundings


Upon entering the property, the natural environment immediately enchants the visitor, creating moments of quiet wonder; it is marked by dry, arid vegetation, cacti, stones, and earth that makes one feel as if in a bubble that both embraces and contrasts with the rest of the region’s colorful floral exuberance. 


The architectural plan was developed in concert with the land, evolving as a spatial solution to the needs and idiosyncrasies of the terrain. The foundational principles that formed the heart of the project and that guided its design from the outset were the following: respect the topography, adapt to the setting, and find harmony with the environment. The result feels like a warm embrace: the residence is received and enveloped by the nature of the site.

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kitchen with granite counters, wooden cabinet, and mosaic backsplash



marrying traditional crafts with new techniques


The dialogue between landscape and structure opens up patios and terraces, contained gardens, and unique views of the river and the canyon. The main concept of the building was to generate spaces where the boundaries between inside and outside blur; where the ranges and colors of the environment integrate into the shades of the building, and where the inhabitants can walk barefoot across the natural stone floor without distinguishing whether they’ve come out or into the house.


In order to achieve this, the architects used raw, natural tones to form the primary palette of the project. Some of these materials were sourced directly from Comala, most notably the rammed earth walls. Other trademark tones, such as the eggshell-colored chukum stucco that graces many of the walls, are also the result of ancient construction techniques and materials native to Mexico. The decision to use other components like local palm wood, river stone, ceilings of woven carrizo, and artisanal blacksmithing as the core elements of the house highlight the connection to the land and to the craftsmanship promoted by Rangel. However, the space also transcends the original inspiration by marrying these traditional crafts and materials with new techniques and innovative structural solutions. 

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view from the open terrace towards the interior of the living room at height and a half with rammed walls

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view from first floor terrace to the interior of the master bedroom, with concrete wall as headwall


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secondary bedrooms with chukum walls and rammed earth walls

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double-height studio with cantilevered stairs and a guest room upstairs





master bathroom with outdoor bathtub, made of chukum
master bathroom with outdoor bathtub, made of chukum
main terrace with access to studio with loft
main terrace with access to studio with loft
dining room next to a concrete staircase
dining room next to a concrete staircase
main access stairs
main access stairs

project info:


 Espacio Kaab
Architects: Di Frenna arquitectos
Project team: Matia Di Frenna Müller, Mariana de la Mora Padilla
Location: Nogueras hacienda, Colima, Mexico



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: Myrto Katsikopoulou | designboom

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