2022

MCHAP.emerge

Forest House

LANZA Atelier

Ocoyoacac, Mexico

January 2019

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Alessandro Arienzo & Isabel Abascal

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Alejandro Márquez, Celina Bonadeo, Jéssica Hernández, Jaime Reyes.

CLIENT

Antonio Torres

PHOTOGRAPHER

Dane Alonso

OBJECTIVE

Using noble materials that are endemic to the region and that can be assembled by a local workforce was an important objective. Thus, the construction process becomes a horizontal exchange of knowledge with artisans and construction workers.
Though the house appears to be quite introspective, it was important to create many gradations between inside and outside. The exterior façade is a blind wall and the interior façade embraces the local landscape. The hallway that connects the main volume with the guest volume, offers glimpses of the central clearing through a brick and glass lattice wall. Also, different scales of patios are distributed within the house. The patios - which are open to the sky - capture portions of the towering pines, and invite in sunlight. A relationship is created with abstract fragments of the landscape through these patios, windows and doors, so that the nature is always present.

CONTEXT

Forest House is located in a pine forest near Mexico City. The initial intention was to domesticate a piece of the forest to make it part of the house. It was a priority to create a sense of sanctuary and retreat in the home. An organic wall that adapts to the positions of pre-existing trees - sometimes operating as a corridor and sometimes as a lattice - delimits an area within nature and serves as a protective external barrier, encasing the main residence from the surrounding environment and offering noise reduction, warmth, and privacy. The rooms of the house - a single level volume for the family and a two level volume for guests - are related to this wall, either joining to it or being crossed by it. Thus, the house turns towards the interior forest, leaving outside the noise of the nearby highway and the presence of other neighbours.

PERFORMANCE

The house is built with artisanal brick, that remains exposed in most cases. Each Puebla-brick features hand-cut edges that were made using a painstaking technique to ensure the walls’ smooth curves. Throughout each season, the brick’s natural earth tones evolve and fill with moss based on the humidity, which further reinforces the home’s identity in harmony with the surrounding forest.
A subtle juxtaposition between clean graphic lines and gentle curves also resonates throughout the construction. The gentle slope of the concrete slab ceilings lets the morning light into all the rooms of the house and enhances the sense of coziness, while the curved exterior wall that continues into the central hallway imbues the residents’ spatial experience with a playful sensibility. In contrast to the traditional straight axes of residential architecture, movement through the house is guided by the sinuous central passage that emerges into the lofty living and dining areas.
Natural light illuminates the central living spaces, where large steel and glass doors lead out to an expansive garden filled with a variety of native trees and cacti. In the afternoon on cloudless days, the sun peeks through the home’s latticed brickwork, casting deep shadows onto the warm-toned walls. When darkness falls, the living spaces are primarily illuminated by floor and wall lamps that exude a soft, subdued glow.
The unique Mexican relationship between architects and skilled artisanal workforce is highlighted in this residential project.