Eco-hostel created by cooperation between Aalto students and Maya community
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö visited Mexico in early June. Discussions included the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in education. One example of a successful project is Aalto LAB Mexico (ALM) in which students carry out different kinds of projects in the Calakumul Maya community of El 20 de Noviembre. The idea is for people from different sectors to work together, as ALM brings together different branches of science as well as the community, businesses, and administration on a practical level. ALM has received support from Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs as well as the Mexican Embassy in Finland.
Clean water is the main issue
The project for establishing the La Casita Eco-hostel for the El 20 de Noviembre community, which began in 2012, will continue this year as well. The project group, which comprises both Aalto students, as well as local university students, focuses especially on matters related to water, such as collection and analysis, as well as a purification system based on the analysis. In addition, the plan includes, among other things, the redesigning of a broken water tank.
La Casita is an architectural experiment that gets its inspiration from traditional Maya houses, whose purpose is to function as an element that combines different players in tourism. La Casita combines three main themes which were set in 2012, the first year of operation: tourism, matters related to clean water, and health services. La Casita is owned by the community and will function under the direction of local women. There are also plans for activities in the building to help village schoolchildren.
Projects and more permanent activities
Aalto LABs join forces with universities, enterprises, society, and cities to act together on societal problems. The values of Aalto LAB are sustainable development, lifelong learning, and sharing culture at different levels. The aim is to wield real influence through various themes. The idea of Aalto LAB is to work in projects in different parts of the world, but there are also more extended projects similar to Aalto LAB Mexico.
ALM 2015 was implemented at Aalto as a studio course project of the Sustainable Global Technologies programme. Students focused on testing water quality and investigating the possibilities of composting toilets. The SGT Studio is headed by Olli Varis, Professor of Water Resources.
The report is available on line (sgtprogramme.fi, pdf)
Aalto LAb Mexico website (aaltolabmexico.wordpress.com)
Sustainable Global Technologies Programme
Photos: Jan Ahlstedt / ALM2015