RED Arquitectos is behind Traspatio, a refurbishment in Puebla

RED Arquitectos,

MIguel Calanchini,

Puebla, MX,

Housing, Free Time,


Susana López and her team from RED Arquitectos completed the Traspatio project in Puebla, Mexico. A community project that rehabilitates a 19th-century building with a clever combination of historical and contemporary elements for an eye-catching, socially significant operation that injects new life into the neighbourhood.

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RED Arquitectos is behind Traspatio, a refurbishment in Puebla Puebla, in full Puebla de Zaragoza, is the capital of Puebla estado (state), central Mexico. Founded as Puebla de los Angeles in 1532, the city lies on a broad plain 2,162 metres above sea level, about 130 km southeast of Mexico City, strategically positioned near the port of Veracruz to the east, on the Gulf of Mexico. Renowned for its culinary delights, universities and artisan work, including the famous Talavera tiles, the city’s old town also the location for Traspatio, the project by RED Arquitectos, under the leadership of the architect Susana López.
Traspatio means courtyard, and the project by RED Arquitectos is the physical and conceptual rebirth of an abandoned 19th-century building, featuring the typical inner courtyard of the old stately homes and government buildings. Still, the term traspatio references more than just the commercial activities that took place in this open area to also embrace the social aspect of the courtyard as a setting for interaction, the place for birthday parties and neighbourly gossip.
This building has been converted into a mixed-use project with a programme consisting of three apartments on the upper floor and commercial spaces on the ground floor. The side patio and the backyard are a space for public use overlooked by a lightweight metal box-like structure that extends the space to the upper floor.
Susana López says the idea was to bring into the courtyard of the converted building the same events that take place in the city square, on a smaller scale, of course: art, graphic design, music, gastronomy, sharing, to create a buzzing, lively place in the heart of the working-place neighbourhood. This position in the humble urban context is also referenced in the formal choices of the project. The architect didn’t fall prey to the temptation to create false history, in the typical Baroque style of Puebla; she preferred to keep it downplayed, conceptually closer to the post-industrial style of certain lofts. She captured this mood after gutting the original building and stripping back the many layers introduced through the years. The walls are presented in their original simplicity, contrasting the materials of the exposed masonry sections with those of the pure white plaster.
The architect maintained the original facade of the old building, adding the suspended metal box on the back that speaks of the delicacy required when history has to be touched, of the care and attention that RED Arquitectos put into this project in the old town, constantly seeking to connect the past and the present.
Another essential element of the Traspatio project is the concept of open doors, so everyone who passes by can see and access that courtyard. Because this isn’t a question of creating a private space reserved for the chosen few. Susana López explains that the pre-Hispanic concept of the courtyard is a clear hint as to why closing the doors and making it impossible for the community to enjoy these spaces would be out of place. These doors will be open to “show people history, demonstrate that we can live together and spend time together". Great urban spaces can and must be for everyone and Traspatio is an excellent example of this approach, which not only respects the past and existing building but also improves the quality of living in the neighbourhood with an action that is as simple as it is brilliant: leaving the doors open.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: RED Arquitectos
Team: Susana López, Angelica Azamar, Ruben Mercado
Location: Puebla, MX
Year: 2019
Images: MIguel Ángel Calanchini
Find out more: https://www.traspatio.com.mx/