Mérida university architecture draws on the local climate

Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos completes the new home for the School of Business and Banking, located to the north of Mérida, Mexico

IUA EBC Mérida university building
(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

Mexico City-based Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos (IUA) reveals what is the second site for the same client in the city of Mérida, Yucatan. The project, the new home for the local School of Business and Banking (Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, EBC Campus Mérida), was a response to the educational institution’s need for more space, as the Mérida university grew its activities and needed to accommodate more students. The architects' solution was to craft a site-specific design that fulfils its brief, while taking into account the scheme's location and climate.

In composing its contextual approach, the studio paid close attention to the region's specific climatic conditions – high temperatures, intense humidity and regular northerly winds. The result was a complex that may appear ‘solid and weighty’, but remains permeable at places and creates a light interior, orientated towards the north to make the most of the cooling breezes. 

IUA EBC Mérida university building exterior

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

The exterior, appearing streamlined and uniform, uses chukum stucco, a traditional material that can be made locally and is defined by its durability and low maintenance – making it especially sustainable. Meanwhile, its earthy colour and texture mix well with the urban surroundings. The complex's programme, which expands across some 6,700 sq m of built surface, is elegantly broken down into six volumes, arranged around a courtyard, which is flanked by colonnades that act as open-air circulation routes, protecting users from the intense sun. 

The architects explain: ‘In the recent educational buildings we have designed, we have focused our attention not on the built space of the classrooms but on the voids and circulation routes, the spaces that connect the teaching rooms with the specific programmes. In this case, this passageway that takes new forms on its path through the campus generates a space of encounter outside of the classrooms.'

Inside, the project contains a variety of classrooms in different sizes, but also teaching rooms for online classes, a 40-seat auditorium, a multipurpose hall that can be configured as a 200-seat auditorium, a cafeteria, a learning centre with a library and study rooms, the courtyard that serves as a key gathering place for the community, a gym, an administrative area and service areas – all wrapped with IUA's pleasingly tactile shapes, their steady rhythm of vertical openings urging you to look up towards the blue Mexican skies. 

IUA EBC Mérida exterior from the side

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

open air circulation at IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

paved courtyard at IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

colonnade at IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

exterior detail at IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

seating outside IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

auditorium of IUA EBC Mérida

(Image credit: Estudio Urquiza)

INFORMATION

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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).

With contributions from