When Cecilia Alcocer and Diego Lizama welcomed us into their boardroom, we walked by several awards.
“Mementos from some of our favorite projects,” says Cecilia.
While studying architecture at UADY, the state university, the pair took part in as many architecture and design competitions as they could.
“We were very active students,” remembers Cecilia. “It took us a while to graduate because we were so focused on work.”
During their student days, they completed many projects and won several awards, despite attending school full time.
“Students can be quite idealistic and romantic,” says Diego. “That tends to get lost in the working world, where time and money weigh heavily. We really do our best to keep our creative spark alive, even though we know we need to be pragmatic, I think this gives us a bit of an edge.”
They have taken this philosophy beyond competitions, and are led by the idea that architecture should first and foremost respond to the particular needs of the individual. Together they established an architectural firm, Laar, that creates human-focused spaces.
The pair has worked on many notable projects throughout their careers.
In 2015, they won third place in the national FIVS INFONAVIT Competition for a vertical design proposal in Yucatán. With the same design, they received the Gold Medal in the II Bienal of Yucatecan Student Architecture.
Once they graduated, one of the first projects they developed was the Science Park in Dzán in 2017.
“This is a project driven by young people from the community,” Diego recalls. “Community leaders realized that the town had a problem with its high school dropout rate, so they decided to pool resources in order to create a space promoting learning and culture.”
For this project, Laar created an area that functions as a classroom, a recreational playground, and a space to be in contact with nature.
“The project was a real community effort. It has become a focal point for Dzán, and a versatile space that people can truly take advantage of,” Diego continues.
Another notable project of the firm is the renowned Casa en el Árbol, built for a retiree in Yaxkukul.
Located in the heart of the municipality, Casa en el Árbol was designed on the site of its owner’s former family homestead. The project is conceived as a traditional Yucatecan townhouse.
The owner inherited the land from her family and preserved the five trees that grew on the lot. She worked with several firms, and even tried on her own, before contacting Laar.
“The owner remembers those trees from her childhood,” says Diego. “From the beginning, she saw the project as a treehouse. After talking with her we understood that it was literally what she wanted, a space that would coexist with the trees on the lot.”
The young architects have explored their creativity in other branches of design since the beginning of their careers.
“We think of design as an area of opportunity to innovate, to create from needs that are not yet covered.”
With this philosophy in mind, they created the Timbiriche Table, a surface made up of multiple separate wooden pieces that can be organized according to the user’s desire.
“The Timbiriche table seeks to create a response to the need to organize and secure an ever-changing space. It offers continuous and personalized creation, using the essence of the traditional game Timbiriche, whose word is of Purepecha origin that goes back to the order from chaos,” the architects said.
The table won them first place in the Dimueble National Design Competition and the Gold Medal in the Golden A’Design Award.
After the success of that project, they have designed additional pieces of furniture, including a transformable cradle and a modular chair.
Laar as an office
Cecilia and Diego are keen to take on new challenges and explore new disciplines, keeping the idea of the individual at the center of their design philosophy.
“Our job is to connect or respond to every human need. Each project, each person has a specific particularity, and our job is to interpret and solve it in their space.”
Now that they have joined the labor market they are faced with real-world challenges: budget, facilities, permits. But that doesn’t discourage them.
“When you create, you have a certain restlessness that never stops, that always seeks to learn more. That’s our role, to rethink the way we enjoy our spaces.”
Learn more about Laar and their projects.