House with Seven Courtyards

Zapopan, Jalisco, México. 2011.

Jalisco State Housing Award 2011.

Our clients wanted to buy a property in a location of the city characterized by dense vegetation. Visiting the site, we found an existing house with a kind of exotic Mexican style but also we realized that this house had potential.

We observed that in this place, arrival at the building implied an ascendant walk – a promenade – like in ancient temples of different cultures.

We remembered Jorn Utzon´s writing “Platforms and Plateaus” where he says: “The platform as an architectural element is a fascinating feature. I first fell in love with it in Mexico on a study trip in 1949, where I found many variations, both in size and idea.”

So we encouraged our clients to conserve the existing building in order to re-use its original structure, making only minor modifications and just adding a new pavilion wing containing the entrance portico and a dining room. We proposed a path between platforms and terraces built to highlight the natural environment found on site.

The pavilion was designed with a modern intention but at the same time includes a system of concrete vaults as a reinterpretation of the traditional brick vaults of this specific region of México.

The classic subject of the corner of a building is reconsidered in the structure of the house by joining 4 steel beams and ordering them to facilitate the possibility of relating 2 façades. Many other architects – ancient, modern and contemporary – have worked with these subjects: “the immutable issues of architecture” as the swiss architect Livio Vacchini would say.

A system of open spaces is possible considering the topographic conditions of the plot and the dense greenery found in the place. Existing adobe walls and modern structures produce a particular atmosphere of contemporary and old elements. We consider this project as an example of re-use in many levels: re-using old structures, re-using old building systems and transforming them into a contemporary language and also re-using steel beams of the original house giving them a new place in the new house.