Main projects


The goal of an Aalto LAB is “to make the world a better place”; in the case of ALM, it is to make of El 20, a better place to live in. Through our interdisciplinary teams of students and their expert mentors, we bring in knowledge from a variety of fields, but we have a golden rule that decisions are made by the community. We might come up with ideas while working remotely, but these must always be validated by the people of El 20. Most importantly, we keep on learning from them. Each year, during our visit to El 20, we use collaborative design methods to bridge knowledge acquired from formal education and their traditional Mayan wisdom. After seven years, we believe we have created project ideas which can potentially enable the people of El 20 to sustain their culture and their environment; but also to achieve security in terms of health and economy


The challenges are complex, and so are these projects. All of our conceived projects are multidimensional, simultaneously tackling more than one of their main challenges. There are also elements that are shared by two projects or more (e.g. facilities such as dry toilets are part of the water management system “Cuxta-Há”, but they are also part of “La Casita Complex”, which is also part of the “tourism strategy”; therefore, dry toilets contribute to the four axes of ALM). The main projects of ALM are the following:

Cuxta-Há (“living water” in Mayan). Autonomous, sustainable water management system that seeks to enable the community to tackle current water related problems (quality and availability), and to be better prepared for the future (as rain patterns might be affected by climate change). On one hand, this project aims to build new community tanks for storing and purifying rainwater; on the other, it seeks to implement technologies that minimize the amount of water needed (e.g. dry toilets).

La Casita Complex (Casita means “the little house” in Spanish). Archetype of a sustainable Mayan house in El 20. It mixes Mayan traditional construction techniques and implements clean technologies. It is owned by the community and serves simultaneously as a community hub, complementary facilities for the school (cafeteria, toilets, working spaces), and as touristic infrastructure (accommodation).

Artesanía para el Bienestar (“Artistry for Wellbeing” in Spanish). A mix of strategies to increase the earnings that artisans get from selling their creations, so that they can cover up their regular expenses and also generate some extra savings that can be distributed into funds (e.g. medical emergencies, children, nature). This project sees their creative passion as an asset and aims at maintaining the instrumental value of money. 

Sustainable Community Tourism Strategy. This strategy aims to enable the people of El 20 to diversify their economic activities, mainly in preparation towards a future where their population has grown and their area designated for agriculture has become insufficient to cater for all. The strategy includes identifying potential attractions, setting up infrastructure, training community members as service providers, and creating relationships with local and international partners. 

Community-based Healthcare Fund. This fund is meant to work as an autonomous community health insurance and it aims to complement the shortcomings of the national insurance system, that is, the medium-sized medical emergencies that might cost between 300 and 15000 MXN.



How each project contributes to the different main axes:
Health Security
Cultural Heritage
Environmental Sustainability
Economic Security


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La Casita Complex


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Artesanía para el Bienestar *** *** **


Tourism Strategy


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Community based health care fund


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