Building a house for a urban geographer and a great connoisseur of architecture and city meant for
us the posibility 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.