Casa Uno in Tijuana: shared living against gentrification

T38 studio grafts an experimental, low-cost co-living building in a rapidly changing neighborhood of the Mexican city.

In the words of Tag Christof, who photographed T38 studio’s Casa Uno, the building “is a totem of the 21st century Tijuana that Americans rarely bother to see — dynamic, young, artistic, worldly, convivial”. In fact, the Mexican border town is rarely the first place coming to mind when thinking about experimental and high-quality contemporary architecture. Casa Uno aims to be am exception to the rule.

Its neighborhood, very close to thriving downtown, is one of the city’s most exclusive residential areas. Quoting Alfondo Medina and Joseph Ruiz from T38 studio, Casa Uno “provides a highly affordable solution for contemporary living, and it challenges notions about the privilege of privacy and the need for collectivity in the modern world”. It is basically a multi-level co-living building, which hosts within it reinforced concrete structure a group private dwellings, modular and of different sizes, as well as a series of common pavilions.

T38 studio, Casa Uno, Tijuana, Mexico, 2019
T38 studio, Casa Uno, Tijuana, Mexico, 2019

Besides the sociological reflections on the composition of Casa Uno’s population – made in large part of millennials, with a professional degree and from outside Tijuana – and the spatial considerations on the forms of flexibility and continuity between homes and collective areas, T38 studio’s design is interesting in the first place in terms of architectural language.

The choice to multiply forms, materials and details – it is worth mentioning at least the entrance’s mint green sculptural volume, as well as the little rooftop “cottages” – results in a joyful, eye-catching urban representation of the diverse community inhabiting the building. It is all in all a successful attempt at disrupting the visual tranquility (or boredom) of its disturbingly posh surroundings.

T38 studio, Casa Uno, axonometric drawing
T38 studio, Casa Uno, axonometric drawing
Casa Uno
Tijuana, Mexico
T38 studio
Project leaders:
Alfonso Medina, Joseph Ruiz
Project team:
Alejandra Matías, Adriana Medina, Nadia Cruz, Edgar Ramírez, Sarah Huerta, Aleksi Vuola, Rosa Maria Ferezi, William Ramos
Pedro Fernández Sotelo
Luvier Ingeniería
Umani Living
1,831 sqm

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