"Cheap and widely available, concrete masonry unit (CMU) block has become one of the most commonly used materials in low-income construction. With this in mind, Alejandro Villareal developed Sistema Arde, a patented building system that combines the ease of building with cement-block with the warmth and variety of traditional construction.
Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each blocklike element is designed to solve a particular construction problem. For example, sewage lines, electrical systems, or other utilities can be run through specialized "chase" blocks. Blocks designed as key pieces simplify wall intersections and other connection points, while structural accessories such as planters and stair pieces combine to humanize the building's façade and interiors.
There are three basic groups identified within the block system: "basic technology", such as the inner walls, joists and various other inner structural elements; "finished structural elements," which form exterior load-bearing walls and create façades with a variety of finished masonry textures; and "structural accessories" such as planters, windows, steps, closings, and decorative elements. The blocks have been used to construct a number of projects in San Miguel de Allende and other parts of Mexico."