Architecture in New Mexico is a unique blend of native and European styles. Subdued and earthy and built with plenty of natural materials, buildings blended in with their environment. Just take a walking tour of Old Santa Fe in northern New Mexico to see several early, classic building styles (Pueblo, Spanish) that define the state. Inside we’ll learn more about why these styles make New Mexico so enchanting.

Pueblo Style

This is a traditional and defining style of the state as built by early Pueblo tribes who developed their structures based on need and resources rather than as a specific design. Original Pueblo structures were built from puddled (or layered) adobe forming thick walls, earthen floors and “Latilla” roofs formed from wood cross pieces and topped with earth or clay. Defining features are its stacked cube shape, flat roof, round corners, natural subdued desert colors and large rough-hewn round horizontal roof “vigas” (or beams) that jut out of the exterior of the buildings. The 1900s, notably the 1920s and 1930s, brought the Pueblo Rival style that modernized the Pueblo style and is widely used even today in a variety of sub styles. Still using flat roofs, vigas (although not always structural) and round corners, these modern stylizations are often built of concrete with a stucco exterior.

Tuscan Style

Italian Tuscan style is not as widely used as other state architectural types and is a more recent addition to New Mexico designs. It does, however, blend in well with older structures of the area. Known for its use of interior courtyards, stucco walls, large timber trusses, stone and sometimes wrought iron, these structures kept the same warm, earthy feel as Pueblo designs and blended in well with the environment.

Spanish Style

When the Spanish came to New Mexico in the mid 1500s, they took the Pueblo style and altered it. Instead of the traditional puddled adobe, they used sun-dried mud-brick adobe and often built their single-file rooms around a central interior courtyard adding arches and heavy wood doors. Ox blood was added to the earthen floors that made them hard and gave a shiny polished look (replicated today with polished concrete floors). Spanish Colonial style was more ornate than earlier Spanish styles blending Baroque stylizations of the 1700s with simple lines of Pueblo architecture.


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