La Mejicana looks for the opportunities in the limitations. A project that consciously respects the existing and attempts to reduce interventions to a minimum. A special focus on reviving disregarded elements reinventing interior and exterior spaces.

This project is a renovation of an existing building. It would be impossible to build a new house in that proximity to the seafront, given the strict regulations in Spain for coast protection. The only allowed interventions for this existing building were repair, upgrade, structural consolidation, and energy improvement. Being expressly forbidden to increase the built volume.

These restrictions have both strongly conditioned the development of the project and at the same time opened up unexpected possibilities. The transformation of the existing space is designed from a deep understanding of what is inherited from the original structure and its inhabitants, the conditioning factors of a strict regulation, the needs from the new residents and what the place gives.

The house is in a plot near the Aldán estuary. In between the house and the water, there is a lush garden with beautiful trees. This small paradise is the legacy left behind by a Galician and German couple emigrated to Mexico in the moment the house was built.

However, the volume of the house presented a rigid structure and limits. There were few opportunities to enable porosity and exchange between inside and outside spaces. It was necessary to perforate, break, interchange, inspire and expire.

The strategy was to study the critical points of the existing building and intervene while respecting the original prerequisites. The points that required a bigger spatial transformation were the access to the house, the deteriorated state of the roof, the reorganization of the interior program and the need for a new staircase.

This way, what was originally the back façade of the house, becomes a regenerative element of the program, capable to intertwine the different transformations. This forgotten element stops being perceived as a flat surface but as a dynamic in-between. The new threshold impulses a completely different habitation of the house and builds unforeseen mediations.

The existing structure required intense consolidation. There were ceded foundations, detached pillars, corrosion in metal structures and an asbestos cracked roof. The consolidation has been implemented using metal elements because it allowed us to easily adapt to the program needs and the different structural systems of the house: concrete, brick, wood and metal.

The energy improvement is an important focus in this project. We have added insulation in the exterior of the thermal enclosure, implemented floor heating and replaced all the existing windows by more efficient new ones. Finally, we have systemized the existing wells to utilize the rainwater for the maintenance of the garden.

We have chosen special materials for the interventions that have required a major transformation, maintaining the rest as similar as possible to its original version. There are natural traditional materials like the local stone or the oak wood, combined with more contemporary popular trends such as the wavy metal plate and the epoxy resins.

A project by

Alba Balmaseda


Alba Balmaseda

Xiana Alonso Población
Technical Architecture


Euteca S.L.

Construcciones Anton S.L.

Esaú Acosta


Ibai Rigby


Photo by Philip Mak


Born in La Coruña, Spain, in 1985. Graduated as an architect from the Polytechnic University of Madrid in 2010. Granted with the Erasmus program in La Sapienza University of Rome in 2007. Diploma Thesis rated as outstanding and winner of a National Prize in 2011. Secured a Master’s Degree in Advanced Architectural Projects at the Polytechnic University of Madrid in September 2011. 

Combines the practice of architecture with academic research and teaching. Collaborated actively with Irisarri+Piñera Architects, Vivero de Iniciativas Ciudadanas (VIC) and Anupama Kundoo Architects. Developed academic research and teaching at Vastu Shilpa Foundation in Amhedabad, University of Nairobi, Tokyo Wonder Site, University IUAV Venice, KAKD Copenhagen or TU Berlin.

Co-founder of the BarrioBalmaseda studio which ran from 2014 to 2020. Since 2020 she has started a new architectural practice focused on design, teaching and research. Currently Guest Assistant Professor at Stuttgart School of Architecture and Planning and PhD candidate at Roma Tre University Department of Architecture. 


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