Upcycling Mezcal By-Products: Traditional Building Workshops in Santa Catarina Minas

Adobe and Rammed Earth

In October 2022 and March 2023, Del Maguey held two construction workshops in the palenque of Luis Carlos Vasquez and his son Luis Carlos Martinez in Sta. Catarina Minas. They are the producers of Minero, Pechuga, Ibérico, Arroqueño.

The workshops were facilitated by Alejandro Montes, founder of COAA (Consultorio de Asesoría Arquitectonica). Alejandro has been testing and building with mezcal by-products, bagazo (fiber) and vinazas (water) for almost a decade, and his workshops reflect this experience.

With ancestral clay pot distillation in Sta. Catarina Minas, the vinazas are particularly rich in organic material, and are an excellent binding agent in adobe construction. While everyone in the villages knows how to make adobe, introducing the use of by-products and rammed earth implements stronger materials, and beneficial recycling practices.

Oaxacan Architectural University

Del Maguey and COAA offered the first workshop in the palenque to architectural students from the Oaxacan Architectural University, URSE, to participate and learn with a practical, hands on project.

It would be the second workshop offered to URSE students by COAA using bagazo and vinazas from Del Maguey producers.

Workshop #1

The day began with twenty URSE students arriving at the palenque in Sta. Catarina Minas . For preparation, dump trucks had brought three types of earth and clay to mix together like concrete. There were small teams building a mold for the rammed earth, testing the quality of a mixture of clay and earth, and mixing these two elements together along with bagazo and vinaza. In all, the team made over 30 large adobe blocks.

The students and their professor were very excited to be in the ancestral mezcal palenque. Some grew up in villages or families who produce mezcal and were eager to share what they were learning in their communities.

Workshop #2

After a period of six months we held the second workshop with a group of 10 volunteers over two days.

In this iteration, the focus was rammed earth block building. With rammed earth, there are layers and layers of the mixture compacted into a mold. The benefit is once the mold is removed, the block that remains is part of the final structure being built. It will not need to be moved.

More to Come

There will be additional workshops this year and next in a different Del Maguey producing palenque. Volunteers are welcome and we will announce dates at least one month ahead of time.