Mexican Architecture Tour: Oaxaca’s Modern Design Movement

Can’t stop thinking about my trip to Mexico… As I’ve been researching for my upcoming trip in December, I thought why not share my findings with my followers who love architecture just as much as me?


We are witnessing a modern design movement throughout Mexico, especially across the Oaxaca coast. Oaxaca is known for its production of mole and mezcal (yuuum), but the city is officially a mecca of modern architecture.


The lovely Michaela Trimble (travel blogger with CA Travel) described Oaxaca as the world’s newest and “greatest architectural playgrounds emerging along the shores of [Mexico]”, which only got me more excited to dive into Oaxaca’s newest residential and commercial builds!


With that being said, join me on a tour of Oaxaca’s modern architecture!



Nuestro Sueño House


Modern design meets warm details. Nuestro Sueño was built in 2021 for a retired American couple who dreamed of spending their retirement in Oaxaca. The couple is very social, so the Espacio 18 team designed a space that is adaptable, lively, and designed for entertaining and housing friends and family. The center of the home contains the kitchen and patio, and all other rooms are built out from this space. The primary bedroom faces the east, with a full bay window, so the couple wakes up to the sunrise every morning. No alarm clock needed!


Villas Lunaya


Villas Lunaya is a meditative and minimalist retreat surrounded by palm trees. Truly, serene. The flooring is designed with white marble, which keeps the floor cool despite the Oaxacan heat. The entire space is designed with calming neutrals and natural materials, intended to soothe guests. Perma Casco Arquitectura designed each room with an emphasis on privacy. Owner James Vybiral called Villas Lunaya his “dream come true”, continuing with:


“The concept of complete privacy comes from Bali, Indonesia. Then the idea grew organically, being inspired by and reflecting the style of contemporary Mexican architecture… We wanted to add our ‘piece of art’ to the environment”



Design by Javier Sanchez


Typical of restaurants in this area, Criollo was renovated from a former residential home. The restaurant is located in the center of Oaxaca City, drawing in locals and visitors from out of town. The Head Chef Luis Arellano builds seasonal menus, bringing in the freshest ingredients from local farms and fisheries.
Criollo’s front door leads you through the kitchen and into a gorgeous courtyard. Architect Javier Sanchez enhances the family-orientated, loving atmosphere while integrating modern design throughout. A beautiful blend of tradition and modern minimalism!


Check out the images below to see Sanchez’ use of natural wood, concrete, stone, and tons of native plants.



Sofora House


The Sofora “House” Hotel is designed to shelter guests while embracing the surrounding environment. In fact, architect Alberto Kalach describes the Sofora House as “a refuge… of natural beauty”. The building is constructed of 10 “vaults”, aka hotel suites open to the environment, that all face the ocean. Each room has spinning grated archways that offer privacy without obstructing the ocean view!
Architecture aside, the hotel follows a farm-to-table principle and only serves food that was produced or and sourced by local farms!


Casa Tiny

Designed by Aranza de Arino


When Arino designed Casa Tiny she was only 25 and studying at Universidad Iberoamericana. She was commissioned by her good friend (and film producer) Claudio Sodi to build an ocean-side oasis. The tiny home is now available to rent on AirBnb!


During the design process, Arino was inspired by Thoreau’s novel, Walden, which reflects on living simply, surrounded by nature. The house faces the Pacific Ocean, is surrounded by natural vegetation, and is lined with the tallest tree in the area. She described wanting to use as few materials as possible and “push to see what [we] could produce. Parota is a local wood and concrete is part of the local building expertise. Our crew knew how to use it, but the gabled roof was a new challenge; they hadn’t cast a slanted roof in one piece before.”



The Expendio Tradición


The Expendio Tradición is a visually stunning Mezcal bar remodeled from a former residential home.The original structure of the home is intact, and the interior was remodeled to create a single, open space with the bar as the focal point. Every corner of the bar is visually inviting and references the long historical significance of Mezcal! The walls are backlit and display mezcals from across Mexico.


Check out this quote by the lead architect, Exequiel Farca, that perfectly put my passion for art, design into words!


“Design and art are fundamental parts of human life, they are ways that humans express themselves and the society they live in. Both design and art are a reflection of society, always evolving alongside humans. Design is an intention with a result, while art is an inspiration.”



Oaxaca’s Historical Archive Building


The Historical Archive Building was built to “preserve and protect a dispersed, disorganized, and partly destroyed treasure of documents”. Finished in 2016, the building was constructed with winding, unique levels due to the topography of the building site. The design is earthy, natural, with natural light streaming from roof-trimmed skylights. The building was built around existing vegetation, to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible — check out the second and third image!


The people, the food, the history, the celebrations, and the architecture —there’s nothing about the culture of Mexico that doesn’t inspire me.  As a latina woman, I have had an admiration for Latinx artists, designers, and architects my entire life.
Leave a comment below or on my IG @marissasainz if you would like to see more of these blogs. Where should we tour next? Jalisco? La Paz? Mexico City? Let me know!