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Casa en la Sierra de Arteaga


San José de las Boquillas, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

September 2021


Cesar Guerrero (Architect), Ana Cecilia Garza Villarreal (Architect)


Carlos Morales (Collaborator), Carlos Flores (Collaborator), Roman Cuellar - CM Ingenieria (Structural Engineering), Daniel Hernandez (Construction Contractor)


Bernardo Canales


Rafael Gamo


The house is divided into three parts: an elongated 40 m × 10 m rectangle defining enclosed areas of shelter, services at each end, and a central social area around the fireplace. All these areas are connected by a long terrace looking directly towards the mountains through a sequence of beams and pillars forming the external structure of the house while framing the natural landscape.
The structure is mainly made with concrete walls of 20 cm thick and a wide variety of long. All these concrete elements were poured by hand in site using a rustic wooden framework. The structural elements are connected by the floor and roof concrete slabs forming a solid final volume.
The house is a mix between a raw handmade materiality and industrialized elements of aluminum and steel, some of them prefabricated and just installed on site like the windows frames, railings, metallic doors or others elements. Likewise, the appearance of the house was intended to have a kind of rustic identity and not to look as something perfect, rather something related to the wildness of the place, to the diverse and rough naturalness of the mountain rocks and also related to a hand of work done on site with local workers from the nearby town. A house whose texture had the quality of taking on time and transforming over the years, admitting marks, becoming more and more part of the landscape.


This project is a weekend house in the mountains of the Sierra de Arteaga, in the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico.
The house is laid out on the slope of an old orchard in mountainous surroundings, with the intention of having minimal impact on the site and natural vegetation. This solution also ensured the best views as the orchard vegetation is much more open and lower than the surrounding forest. The house is a perforated volume with courtyards that break up the program and bring natural light inside. The largest of these contains a staircase leading up to the roof where there are 360-degree views over the valley and the mountains. The site also contains a viewpoint and firepit that is independent of the house and an outdoor table seating up to 20, both constructed as concrete monoliths.
The house is understood as a kind of sanctuary, where its users move away from the city and meet nature. The house allows them to connect with their natural environment, generating a deep awareness of the place, resources and the world they inhabit in a safe and pleasant way.
Although the house belongs to a family, the experience of going to their refuge in the mountains generates moments of reflection and self-discovery to each of its members, according to their ages, their roles and family responsibilities.
The house is understood as a refuge and an observatory, an instrument to observe the landscape, the mountains and the forest.


Works far from the city imply a communication and execution effort that is divided between transportation, economy of resources and available construction means. All through time. Because time makes architectural works and gives shape and consistency to materials.
This house took approximately 4 years to build. Partly due to its location immersed in a mountainous area with little access in northern Mexico. Partly due it´s peculiar design which made the understanding of the construction slower for the local workforce who understood that this work was a new challenge and learning.
The construction at this site implies a lot of care in the managing and transportation of materials which was made very slowly in order to take care of the natural setting of the project. The construction then presents a brutal appearance in its elements made with local and very rural labor such as that used in the infrastructure of bridges and retaining walls on the roads of the region. Without pretensions beyond guaranteeing the stability of the structural elements in an orderly manner. Order and modulation are the tools of the architectural quality of the work. The resulting materiality of the house is then a collaboration of different teams of workers who added the manufacturing of each part: foundation and platform, concrete walls and finally roof. At different times but as a one team. Now the house receives a lot of visitors almost each weekend and has become a special place to share by the family with their friends.

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