Hacienda Sac Chich
Project awarded with honorable mention in Mexico’s Architecture Biennale 2006
The hacienda was built in Yucatan between 1880 and 1910 for the production of henequen fiber. The eclectic style and construction period correspond to the late XIX century, the peak of Yucatan’s henequen haciendas.
Similar to the fate of many other hacienda ensembles, after falling from its original use, the hacienda was divided among several proprietors. The main house remained as living place, part of the lands was adapted as a nursery, while the Machine House was dismantled and left unused. By 1990 it had lost more than half it’s roof structures and several rooms were misused as dumpsters. That same year, a couple of foreign artists acquired the property. They partially restored it and adapted it as their country house. Later in 2002, Howard and Cyndy Berger bought the property from them and began working on a full-scale restoration project, divided into two phases with the help of architect Salvador Reyes Ríos and designer Josefina Larrain.
The first phase (2003-2004), comprises the conversion of old storage rooms of henequen bales into three new rooms with their own bathroom each. The master bedroom encompasses the complete section of the storage room, measuring 6.0 x 12.0m with an interior height of 7m; in order to conserve the perception of the original continuous space, the division from the bathroom is achieved with the use of screens and curtains. A noticeable element of this area is the conversion of the former melting pit into a down-level living room. The creation of a frieze that frames the original wall’s patina and follows the space perimeter is also a significant element of design as well as a witness of the previous condition of said space.
Furthermore, the conditioning of open spaces creates a visual and physical interaction with the landscape that with the introduction of subtropical plants is reconfigured and enriched. Finally, the old cistern is adapted as a swimming pool, with the addition of a shallow pool for sunbathing and a pergola. The pergola’s metallic structure refers to those that complemented the old buildings from that period.
The second phase (2008-2009) covers the upgrade of the ancient space occupied by the henequen’s tren de raspa into a terrace, as well as the construction of a sculptural stairway to access an open terrace on the roof. The water collection tanks are adapted as water gardens all along the complex. Additionally a new guesthouse is built in the area of the old patio de tendido where traditionally henequen was hung to dry. The floor, ceilings, and walls of the new house are completely covered with masilla de chukum, a mix of white cement with the resin extracted from the local tree of chukum. Two large glass panels and two mosquito nets glide and hide completely to open or close the space towards the terrace. All of the interior design and furniture for both phases were designed accordingly.