La Tropical is a contemporary lush retreat hidden behind one of the many colonial facades of historic Merida.
How would you describe Casa Escuela in a nutshell?
Casa Escuela is a century-old architectural beauty where memories of the past and hopes for the future have found a home. It’s a sanctuary in the centre of bustling Merida, with every space telling a story of the people who inhabited it.
What is the story behind Casa Escuela, what was your inspiration to create it?
We had been living in California for 11 years and felt it was important to go back to our roots. Merida was the perfect place for us to be as it has a very rich cultural heritage, particularly in terms of Mayan culture, which has a lot to teach us. It also offers easy accessibility to the beaches, haciendas and underground cenote pools of the Yucatan Peninsula. As designers and architects, we wanted to create a space where guests could experience all of this.
Casa Escuela was built in 1919 as a school and is located in downtown Merida, just five blocks from the Zocalo. Aside from preserving the original building with its pasta tiles and wooden doors, we also designed several additional rooms to create the property you see today. Every space preserves the history of its original materials, with traditional Yucatan celosias dressing the walls and adocreto bricks bringing elements of the natural world inside.
The restoration was a 4-year preservation project lead by Ezequiel Farca and Monica Calderon. Their preservationist approach and contemporary interventions sensitively respect the original character of the property’s historic architecture.
How would you describe the atmosphere and interior design of Casa Escuela?
Casa Escuela is a place for accessing the ancestral cultural wisdom of the region and celebrating the richness of the Mayan culture. We’ve blended the old and new while using materials that have a connection to the history of the space.
For example, underneath the house was a well that we transformed into a spa resembling the cenotes that dot the surrounding region. Also, we brought a more contemporary design to the celosias, which are a feature of Merida architectural design. Each of the rooms celebrates the traditions of a time well-lived while safeguarding the experiences of those who came before.
To you personally, what is so special about Casa Escuela?
The details and architectural elements in the way the house was curated and built are what make it a unique project. It was conceived as a place to share our culture with people from around the world and showcase local artworks, with the property decorated with Latin American sculptures and paintings.
It’s also important to mention that we are concerned about sustainability and our environmental footprint, so we have solar panels and are careful about our electricity and water usage.