Smo House

Santa María Del Oro, Nayarít México. 2005.

Gold Medal | Bienal De Arquitectura De Jalisco 2007.

In two thousand and four, a client asked us to design a weekend house for him and his family in a place called Santa María del Oro, which is a crater of a volcano filled with water.

This is a place with extraordinary vegetation and climate. In that time – and even now – we were interested in experimenting with a modern type of construction. We wanted to use the tectonic method that we know as “Maisón Dom-Inó” thanks to Le Corbusier who named it in the 1920´s. And of course we remembered that one of the most iconic houses of the twentieth century – the Farnsworth house – was built using that archetypical form of the modern movement. So we decided to take this project as a manifesto about modern tradition and we used both, the “Maisón Dom-inó” and the Farnsworth house as references.

So we recovered many characteristics of the “Miesian” house: the horizontal space between slabs, its transparent condition that seems to reduce the presence of the house in the place, the “pilotis” that in this case allow the water that comes from the mountain to flow under the house. But quickly we realized that as much as we wanted to evoke the tectonic perfection of the Farnsworth house, the particular conditions of the site and the requirements of our clients, always led us to transform the paradigm again and again. So, we had to develop a hybrid structure: the rear pavilion is made by solid traditional foundations and in many cases has solid walls. On the other hand, the main pavilion is defined almost completely by columns, slabs and glass walls. A raised platform divides the plot to configure two spaces: an enclosed patio and the slope that ends into the water. In a way to reduce the presence of the house, we avoided the idea of a central core to allow wide lake views through the house.

The Farnsworth House has been described by the Spanish critic Antonio Miranda as “thermodynamic terrorism” alluding to the impossibility of the façade to work as a climatic dispositive. The open condition of our house was reinforced by the use of sliding doors, following the idea that and enclosed glass room can be transformed into an open portico, to ventilate efficiently. With all the respect to the German master, this is maybe the most important critic feature of this project in relation with the model we chose.

From the development of this project we learned two things:

1.- We understand the classics not as the end of an investigation but as the beginning of many others. They are starting points where we can begin to achieve new formal, spatial and material findings.

2.- A good homage is always a critic work about the honoree building.

Is not about only remembering nostalgically, but evoking and putting into crisis.