House And Studio In Mar Chapálico

Ajijic, Jalisco, México. 2014.

Building a house for a urban geographer and a great connoisseur of architecture and city meant for us the posSibility to experiment with a certain way of understanding the architectural project.

The plot is in a place called La Floresta – The Forest – a XX mid-century urbanization as a garden city aside Chapala Lake in west Mexico, which since a long time has been known as a retirement place for foreigners due to its great weather. This urbanization has two leading characteristics: the urban space has a high quality due the wide streets and its interraction with the landscape – lake and mountains – and also by the existing vegetation, however the architecture made in this place has no relevance because it has been conceived as a folklorist and stylistic reinterpretation of local tradition. Thus we proposed a project that were able to relate deeply with their natural and cultural environment even if it can´t have direct views of the lake.

Can architecture evoke the form of its own landscape?

Mar Chapálico – Chapalico Sea – is the name used by old inhabitants of this place to name the lake alluding to its big size. The lake is a place that was formed by volcanic activity millions years ago.

The mountains that surrounds it emerged and an existing fiord was divided to produce its shape. That is the reason why we can observe a system of lakes, from the lake Chapala to the Pacific Ocean through Colima state. The reason of the attractive climate is the lake itself, and its capacity of making grow an exuberant vegetation.

During the rainy season it is possible to see how the water comes from underground to the surface, which shows us the runoffs that happen all the time in the direction of the lake. The idea of the project is to build a home which is capable to evoke the natural cycle of the place and understand their privileged climate and landscape. That is the reason of the roof of the house to have the capacity to collect the rainwater and conduce it through downspouts and make it emerge from the ground of the reflecting pool located in-front of the house, such as the surrounding landscape does during the rainy season. To complete this idea of “territorial construction” just beside of the reflecting pool, we have built a garden: a lush forest which together with the rear gardens make feel the interior of the house as surrounded by greenery.

The initial scheme of the dwelling is made setting back the public areas facing north-south and also making a frontal enclosure space. The volume containing the private areas was placed perpendicularly to the public area of the house also avoiding west sun. The last piece of the house is the studio space that was placed into the public área as a mezzanine with the dining room.

The cantilevered condition of the studio makes a terrace under it and produces a shadowed space to obtain a fresh climate for this area in the back yard. The ultimate idea of this project is to understand beyond a house with garden, a house placed within a garden.

The objetive was to build a surrounded space by greenery and determined by the light filtered through the structural interstices of the roof: a system of u-shaped concrete girders that catch the rainwater and sunlight producing an always changing space.

As a way to relate the house with the local artisanal tradition, we proposed two elements: a lattice work for south facade made with the wood of a tree named Palo Dulce. This piece is able to attenuate the sunlight, to produce a particular interior atmosphere it can also fold to manipulate and determine the degree of intimacy of the interior space. This lattice weaved by a fisherman of a near town informs us about craft knowledge still found in the region. The second element is the stone wall that limits the frontal enclosure space. It was made by a local stonemason evoking the stone pavements found in Mezcala; a small isle located in the lake that was used as a jail many years ago.