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This isa tributeto thevenezuelanarchitectJorge Castillocasa mara50 years later1974 - 2024

Photography: Julio TavoloStory: Juan Carlos Castillo LagrangeDislocal Case Study:El Ciepito - San Felipe, venezuelaJanuary 2024

Julio Mesa2024 ©juliotavolo 

Humans in plastic shelters inhabit a city lost in time. Reminiscences of a utopic past on Earth. Year 2024.

A takeaway house for sale! An emergency, temporary prototype, or a kit with an expiration date.

A ruined module best reveals an idea the Mara System is a container and could be a single space without obstacles or internal divisions. The modules have already fulfilled a lifecycle, but the heirs decided to stay. They have learned to extend the life of their dwellings.

We miss the oculus at the cusp. A large skylight in the center would also allow the hot air to escape. In case there are fewer trees, a second roof is necessary above the house, the roof for the shade.

There are no traces of strong ground movements. The urban plannig pop-up without cutting down the forest, where only small terraces give way to synthetic saucers, lightweight, easy to transport, and ready to use. 20% civil works and 80% land.

In this city, no boundary walls have built to separate properties. There are also no new buildings. There are no block annexes nor alterations to the original system. Here only exist small banana plantations, which seem to be trades, that the old agrochemical technicians have copied in their houses.

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Rodrigo Marín Briceño. The house was a forest. 2024

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Bárbara De Sousa. Naïve fruit. 2024

Marcos Coronel-Bravo. Chasing the absurd. 2024

Rodolfo Wallis. Sketches. 2024

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Julio Mesa2024 ©juliotavolo 

Casa Mara: un experimento venezolano en vivienda prefabricada.

In 1974, Venezuelan architect Jorge Castillo Blanco designed a prefabricated housing system made of plastic materials called the Casa Mara.

Around 43 of these houses were purchased by the Venezuelan Development Corporation to develop a housing complex, a reference for the country's industrial development.

The Casa Mara housed the workers and families of the CIEPE foundation (State Research Center for Experimental Agroindustrial Production). After working in an agrochemical company, they would come home to live in plastic buildings.

According to the architect himself, these mobile units made of fiberglass and extruded polystyrene were conceived, taking references as diverse as the iconic shape of a futuristic flying saucer, emerged from science fiction movies and comics of the time, the configuration of the maternal womb and of indigenous housing archetypes, such as the Piaroa churuata. The houses, designed to accommodate a minimum family, were produced modularly in a naval factory in Caracas and a total of 94 were built, distributed throughout Venezuela.

In a conversation with Jorge Castillo in 2020, Joan Benassar points out that for the architect, it was very important to insist on the relationship between the wavy and serpentine shapes of our bodies and the curves of the Casa Mara (Benassar:2020): "A kind of blurred capsule houses of doubtful genealogy, mocking the promises of architectural technology and transforming quality into accessibility, in a continuous path towards abstraction."

Each module is organized and shaped according to the needs of the inhabitants, and these same changes also have a disproportionate effect on the desires of others. The same space can quickly become a comfortable living room, a mechanical workshop, a romance chamber or a card game room.

At night, the translucent plastic windows light up in different colors. The modules are also used as speakers that amplify the sound of music. The organic and adaptable shapes of the surfaces produce numerous changes in the lifestyles of their inhabitants.

A few years after the assembly of the first houses, all kinds of new configurations thrive in the architectural labyrinth provided by the city of Casa Mara.


Julio Mesa2024 ©juliotavolo 

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Urbanización El Ciepito
San Felipe, Venezuela
08 de Enero, 2024


Aurimar Moreno

Bárbara de Sousa

Camila Martí

César Figueroa

David Méndez

Edmundo Hernández

⁠Fabio López

Gabriela Alvarado

⁠Gabriela Callejón

Ingrid Regalado

Ivonne Velazco

Jorge Chacín

⁠Juan Castillo

Julio Mesa

Karina Domínguez

Laura Sayán

⁠LuisRa Bergolla

Marcos Coronel-Bravo

María Elisa Daboin

María Segovia

Melissa Parra

Rafael Suárez

Rodolfo Wallis

Rodrigo Marín

Sebastián Bauza

Sofía de Sousa

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