Seignosse is located in the southwest of France, on the Côte d’Argent, a region known for its landscapes, its mild climate and the richness of its terroir. The project must be considered on this small-scale level as well as in terms of its broader history and its geography.
The Landes region has long been a sparsely populated area because it was hostile to humans. Until the 18th century it was a vast, inaccessible swamp, where local shepherds moved on stilts both to keep their feet out of the water and to watch their herd from afar. It is called the flat country because of the near-lack of topographical features, a characteristic explained by its geology.
The ground is formed by a shallow limestone plateau covered by sediment. The rock layer is impermeable, so rainwater flows very slowly to the ocean, forming these wetlands as a result. To overcome this, during the Age of Enlightenment the French state decided to manage the territory by planting suitable trees, initially cork oaks for use in the corking industry. This tree, which has a strong presence in the region, is of particular interest to us for the project.
A larger-scale program of land management was later embarked on through the planting of maritime pines and the establishment of the “dune cordon” all along the Atlantic coast in order to protect the forest from the ocean. It is the largest pine forest in Europe, as can be felt it in the perfect alignment of trees in this continuous man-made landscape.
This situation has developed some examples of vernacular architecture: half-timbered houses with pronounced eaves and a masonry plinth that responds to the climate of the region. Also, the huts of the gemmeurs, the people in charge of collecting resin from the pines, whose homes were made of large pine boards covered with resin to protect them.
We drew clear ideas from this analysis that formed the basis of our reflection and the design of the project.
The first step is to climb up to protect yourself from the water and to see further: think of a project on stilts.
From the positioning of the pines we retain a grid pattern, a consistency of design that allows the project to be punctuated in plan as well as in section, by the repetition of vertical elements reminiscent of the slenderness of the pine trunks.
We understand the characteristics of the climate by sheltering the façades with overhanging roofs, because there’s necessary to protect from both the rain and the sun that come and go with the wind. Build simple constructions, in harmony with the landscape.
We understand the entire site as part of a whole, a holistic vision of architecture which is entirely the result of its situation.
Starting with the landscape
We think of this project as an inhabited garden, a fusion between nature and architecture, which breaks down the boundaries between interior and exterior. A plot that can be used in its entirety, living according to the light and the seasons. Build a smart home that is easy to activate and requires little maintenance. A place that challenges preconceived ideas. We analyzed the plot under four sequences, each corresponding to a purpose: to use, to live, to enjoy, to watch.
The program is very clear, and defines a number of volumes that have special relationships between each other. The treatment of the landscape must unify the whole.
Construction then began to take shape: the independent guest house, the garage with its carport, the main house and its covered terraces, the swimming pool with its summer kitchen and finally the studio to the rear of the garden. They are judiciously distributed across the site according to their uses and orientation. Everything is connected by raised terraces, either covered or open air.
The Local Urban Plan imposes a built-up area of 30%, a setback from the street and neighbors, maximum heights, and raising the floor level by 30cm compared to the natural terrain. We have integrated these constraints into the project as assets in order to make it more discreet and to limit the inconveniences of the street as well as of the neighboring buildings.
The rectilinear hedge along the façade is maintained as a cultural relic: behind it grows a lush garden, made up of local species such as maritime pine and umbrella pine, holm oak and cork oak, broom and gorse, species that require little maintenance and consume little water. It is about creating a specific universe that evolves throughout the year, with large ferns that give it a tropical appearance while respecting endemic species. A nurturing landscape with several areas dedicated to the vegetable garden.
All the existing trees are preserved, while new ones are planted between the constructions, such as deciduous trees close to the façades in order to protect them in summer and let through light in winter. Much of the project is based on reversible screw foundations. This allows for a minimum impact on the ground and does not damage the roots by creating a refuge underneath for the local fauna. With the idea of a biophilic design, the project is committed to having a low impact on the site.
While designing the project, we focused on the resources already present on site as well as the possibility of using materials from the demolition of the existing house.
Several elements stand out, such as the tiled roof which once came down can be used as coating for the access, a red tone that contrasts with the vegetation and allows vehicles to move around as if playing pétanque.
Part of the masonry can be reused after crushing as concrete rubble needed for the main house. The glazing can be sent to a recycling center to be repurposed as insulation material like that currently used under the slab of the house. The rest of the materials would be donated to recycling associations we regularly work with.
The construction system and the materials used provide the basis for understanding the project. All the building façades are clad in cork, a locally sourced, rot-proof material. The roof line of all the volumes forms a single slope. The corrugated sheet steel roofs evoke the image of surf huts and reflect the surrounding landscape. Rainwater is collected in cisterns in order to water the garden and can potentially be reused for the toilets and washing machine.
The family house is composed of three walls made of low-carbon recycled concrete, and is insulated from the outside with a thick layer of wood fiber. Its southern facade is completely glazed, protected by large eaves which are supported by pre-grayed wooden posts to guarantee stability over time. The annexes are all in wooden framework, raised above the ground with the screw piles. Thanks to the repetition of the elements, much of it can be prefabricated, including the guest house which can be ready for use before the rest.
In order to meet passive house criteria, we have organized all the constructions into rectangular and compact plans. The certification is based only on the main house, which meets all the demands and the PHPP calculation: less than 15 kWh/m2/year, extremely well-insulated, airtight, with a very good double-flow ventilation system and generous, yet controlled solar gain.
We have enhanced comfort in summer thanks to cross-sections that promote natural ventilation, the thermal inertia of the concrete walls and floors which retain coolness, and the implementation of elegant exterior blackout systems on all exposed windows.
We intend this project to be sober and discreet, to be an intelligent, minimalist architecture, both simple and contemporary, where beauty resides as much in the volumes as in the details.
IUA Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos in collaboration with a6a y APDA Ana Paula de Alba
Seignosse, France, 2021
PILARES (which stands for Puntos de Innovación, Libertad, Arte, Educación y Saberes or Innovation, Freedom, Art, Education and Knowledge Hubs) is a project of the Mexico City Government to establish spaces for education and culture that contribute to recreation, gathering and exchange among the city’s inhabitants.
The PILARES are a series of strategically located public buildings across Mexico City, sited in areas of high levels of vulnerability and poverty.
These community-oriented spaces offer areas designed for study and learning, together with free artistic, sports and recreational activities and workshops for entrepreneurship, skills and professional development. Programs include continuing education, a robotics lab, and screenprinting, electricity, cookery, and jewelry workshops, among others.
Mexico City covers an area of around 1,400 km2, a diverse and complex territory that is divided into 16 boroughs. It forms part of the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico which has a population of almost 22 million inhabitants who lack spaces for education and cultural activities. The PILARES are established at strategic points in each of these boroughs, where poverty rates are high and access to education and culture is limited. The sites selected for their construction form landmarks in the urban fabric, enabling the population to identify them as community meeting centers that promote the regeneration of social life.
The proposal is rooted in public space: the development and activation of these hubs promotes peaceful coexistence in the communities where they are established. The basic concepts of the project are as follows.
Public space is the physical reflection of a community’s values. In the park, exchange of these values is promoted by virtue of care and coexistence. The park has an open and fluid dynamic, so the project is understood as a park with a building, an oasis within the city where what matters most is the open space, the conservation and recognition of the existing vegetation and the experiences that are originated there.
Three spatial typologies emerge: the exterior, the covered exterior -a transitional space or roofed park- and the interior. The proposal is born and lives in the intersection of these three spaces.
The architectural program is specifically designed for each location and site. Its flexibility is rooted in the identification of three different elements: the “servant” spaces for services and installations, the flexible and open space of the program and the programmers. These latter are independent, changing elements that give a particular character to the use of each space and serve to activate the project. This differentiation makes it possible to organize everything in a clear fashion, and optimize the spaces to ensure they can be used flexibly. At the same time, it leaves open the possibility for changes to the program over the lifetime of the building, allowing it to evolve and adapt freely.
Identity and color
The use of color in Mexican architecture is an element that has been transformed and reinterpreted in the hands of different artists and architects. Color together with the material qualities endows public buildings with character and identity, while ensuring low maintenance costs by not requiring periodic recoating.
The principal material selected is exposed concrete with a ridged texture on the exterior and smooth on the interior. It was chosen for its construction and structural efficiencies as well as its thermal and aesthetic qualities. In appearance the volume is simple and compact, with a strong character that confirms its role as a public building.
PILARES 02 Álvaro Obregón and PILARES 03 Azcapotzalco are positioned on sites with similar physical characteristics: both are located at a road intersection on corner properties with existing vegetation. The arrangement of the volumes takes into account the natural elements of the site, maintaining a number of mature trees and incorporating them visually into the buildings.
The dominant diagonal of the ground floor provides clear and free-flowing pedestrian routes in any direction, inviting users to walk around the park and enter the building. The diagonal walls set in the plaza serve as a curtain and transition between the exterior and interior spaces.
The ground floor is open with the interior space marked by a lightweight glass façade that can open outwards, expanding the park space across street level, making it accessible to pedestrians and to the whole community for use as a place of encounter and to enjoy cultural and social activities.
The 1.50 x 1.50 meter grid used to modulate the structure determines different zones and orders the program, freeing up the multipurpose areas and grouping services and building facilities, which are identified by yellow boxes. These run throughout the height of the building, granting visual coherence to the complex.
The three floors are organized into four displaced platforms that are articulated around a central void that acts as a starting point for the vertical circulations while providing natural ventilation and illumination to all parts of the building. Each independent platform is connected by means of stairways and the central elevator. A number of them are further connected by ramps that also function as multipurpose spaces; others take advantage of their independence for activities that demand purpose-built spaces.
The ground floor of PILARES 02 includes an access platform that also serves as both an auditorium and staircase for cultural activities. The first floor houses the continuing education rooms on two platforms, and the second floor the robotics and cookery workshops, which includes an outdoor area for growing herbs and vegetables.
The program for PILARES 03 contemplates a multipurpose lobby, continuing education classrooms on the first two floors, and screenprinting and jewelry workshops on the upper two floors.
The sloping roof produced by the incorporation of half-stories serves as a fifth façade, with the terrace used for the generation of energy with solar panels to store solar energy for the complex.
IUA Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos in collaboration with WORKac (Amale Andraos & Dan Wood)
Álvaro Obregón, Mexico City, 2020
The existing five-storey building is located near to a plaza in the Roma district. The small tree-lined Plaza is surrounded by lively avenues. At the same time, the Plaza is set back from the busy streets and therefore hidden, so that the adjacent street of the Guaymas project is conveniently quiet.
The existing 1960s building appears notably unembellished in the colourful surroundings. Influenced by the architectural language of its time of origin, the façade was adorned by surfaces with dull colours. It is only at a second glance that the valuable qualities of the building become apparent: the proportions of the two main façades are balanced and surprisingly contemporary in design. The plain elegance of the exterior design of the building will be accentuated by a new materialization. The window grid will be retained for the new windows, apart from the heightening of the window band on the top floor. The residential building will have a fresh and inviting appearance after the renovation. Here the visitor gets a first impression of the intervention: a new window front placed in front of the old one with a grid of filigree metal rods extends over the entire ground floor.
As before, the building is divided into public uses on the ground floor, five floors of apartments and a semi-public roof terrace. The entrance situation with a characterizing canopy roof is complemented by attractive uses for the users of the building. A small cafe, a gym and the business center will be accessible directly from the entrance hall of the building.
The large existing building is characterized by a clear constructional logic. A staircase in the south-west corner of the building has so far provided access to the apartments through a long corridor. The functional floor plans of the regular storeys were developed around two inner courtyards. The redesign of the building will lead to an adjustment of the apartment sizes and the creation of various common seating areas. In addition, the weaknesses of the existing building are counteracted.
The new interpretation of the building focuses on the vertical and horizontal circulation and the patios, some of which were previously dark and unattractive. A high glass volume with subdivisions made of fine metal struts contains the lift and the stairs connecting all floors. The elegant vertical stair tower brings plenty of light into the corridors through its maximum transparency. A sequence of different seating areas, corridors, two patios filled with plants and small bridges surprise the visitor when entering one of the floors. On each floor the horizontal access path is designed differently and the route to the individual apartments is therefore individual. Partly the corridor is existing, partly the circulation area of the apartments runs directly over bridges crossing and intersecting the patio. The new circulation system allows a flexible adjustment of the apartment sizes and thus an efficient use of the floor space.
The new apartments are characterized by open structures. The apartments vary particularly in their orientation. A distinction is made between two types of apartments: Apartments facing the main facades to the north or east and apartments facing the patio. To bring as much light as possible into the patio apartments, the two patios are fully glazed on three sides. An interplay of transparent and opaque materials ensures the necessary privacy protection/screening. The apartment partition wall is dissolved, so that the patio is perceived as an extension of the light-flooded living space.
The new skin of the patios is designed in the same architectural language as the shop windows on the ground floor and the stair tower. Glass and fine metal rods in a regular grid extend up to the roof. The patios are covered by a pergola structure, which can be seen from the patios as a diamond pattern. The pergola is located on top of the building and offers protection from strong sun and rain for visitors to the roof terrace and the inner courtyards. The roof of the pergola appears as dynamic and elegant as the entire intervention. With its lightness and transparency, the new merges effortlessly with the old while remaining clearly legible. The new interior of the building is characterized by far-reaching and surprising visual relationships through the building and its patios, which in turn allows encounters between its inhabitants.
Roma Norte, Mexico City, 2020
Under deciduous trees on the cliffs of the Pacific Coast, a cluster of architectural volumes emerges, nestling in the topography as if they were sculpted from the stone of the cliff, aspiring to go unnoticed, to alter as little as possible, and to offer a vision of something that has always been there.
Nature and architecture come into tune with each other by prioritizing the former, while making the latter excel at what it does best when it is thoughtfully handled, adapting to the site’s particularities and enhancing the perception of the pre-existing space.
This project is located on the coast of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s richest states in terms of culture and tradition. The design introduced traditional elements not as “craft objects” but as architectural elements based on their function and practical use.
he master plan for the reserve identified a particularly attractive site, with lush and changing vegetation in an area boasting a rugged and unique topography. This situation ensures that each element of the project becomes an independent unit emerging from the reserve.
The reserve is car-free and circulation around the complex will use the same paths employed during the construction process. The design strategy prioritizes respect for the existing site and achieving the minimum environmental impact.
The aim of creating outstanding architecture that aspires to go unnoticed produces an ambiguous relationship between the natural and the man-made elements, within a continuous panorama of unspoilt natural spaces.
A thoughtful selection of simple yet honest materials enhance the beauty of the natural environment, and help to blend the architecture into its surroundings, while achieving the most with the least.
Reserva El Torón – Villas is a low-impact development, with a footprint of just 17%, and an average of 1,750 m2 of construction per hectare, assigning respect for nature a primordial value in the project development. It includes a further 6,400 m2—representing 23% of the site—of minimum intervention exterior areas, for the admiration and enjoyment of users, while the rest of the site remains as untouched and unspoilt as possible, fostering a sincere and honest approach to the natural environment.
The project consists of 7 modular pieces in a sort of puzzle-like arrangement, which form 4 principal types of villas, allowing several variations and adaptations. With endless combinations, they adjust and respond in a unique way to the site and its particularities, making every villa one of a kind.
Ventanilla, Mazunte, Oaxaca, 2019
La arquitectura de Nicaragua refleja las complejas relaciones de su realidad histórica, con toda la herencia multicultural del pasado y la riqueza de su entorno natural presente.
La riqueza natural de Guacalito de la Isla es la base de la propuesta, la cual debe contemplar el mayor aprovechamiento de las vistas, vegetación nativa y recursos del emplazamiento, integrándose sutilmente al contexto. La propuesta arquitectónica busca expandir esta relación al propio modo de vivir los espacios. El volumen se adapta al entorno natural a partir de los materiales, que aportan ligereza y frescura, haciendo que la luz y el aire sean los protagonistas de los espacios.
El terreno tiene una topografía particular, donde la parte media del terreno tiene la mayor elevación. Entre la zona alta del terreno y el nivel medio de la vialidad hay una diferencia de aproximadamente 7 m, por ello por medio de taludes y diseño de paisaje se buscará matizar esta diferencia de niveles.
La planta baja se desplanta en el nivel 116.50, uno de los punto más elevando del terreno, con el fin de aprovechar por completo las vistas hacia el mar y el entorno circundante. Con este desplante elevado, el basamento de la casa sirve al mismo tiempo de estructura portante y sótano con programa. En este nivel se ubican las áreas de servicio como bodegas, cuartos de servicio, área de lavado, cuarto de máquinas y el garage cerrado.
La conexión de esta zona con el nivel de planta baja se logra por medio de una gran escalinata, un montacargas y una escalera en el área de servicios.
Retomando los esquemas tradicionales de las casas coloniales de Nicaragua, la casa se articula en torno a un gran patio central que integra el programa de necesidades de los usuarios y lo divide en módulos semi-independientes que se unen por medio de dos grandes andadores perimetrales hacia el exterior y el centro de la casa. Los espacios se van acomodando según la vocación más pública o privada del programa, generando entre ellos diferentes áreas exteriores cubiertas que provocan la vivencia de la casa siempre hacia el la naturaleza del entorno. En la zona sur poniente se encuentran los espacios más públicos de la casa: En el acceso un área de guardado con un medio baño y el montacargas, family room, cocina con alacena, desde la cual hay conexión con un área de asador-desayunador exterior, escalera de servicio a sótano o cubierta, comedor, sala de estar, terraza cubierta con comedor, sala y zona de hamacas, la cual se conecta con la gran terraza exterior y la alberca, y une también el patio interior con el exterior.
El programa más privado contempla las habitaciones, las cuales tienen 3 tipologías: 3 recámaras ubicadas hacia el norte con baño completo, 1 suite con vestidor, baño y jardín interior, así como una terraza orientada hacia el sur-oriente y la suite principal, con vestidor baño y jardín interior. En este nivel también se ubica un estudio de música, el cual tiene un desnivel de 1.30 m hacia el jardín exterior con el objetivo de lograr privacidad y un ambiente diferenciado del resto de la casa.
En el segundo nivel se ubica una segunda suite principal con la misma distribución que la suite inferior y con grandes vistas hacia el entorno.
Todos los espacios contemplan el uso de cancelerías diseñadas con maderas de la región y buscando el refugio y confort necesarios además de la versatilidad de cerrar y abrir los espacios en su totalidad hacia el exterior y hacia el patio central.
Por medio de materiales naturales, se buscan ambientes neutros, sutiles y elegantes, donde el protagonista sea la vegetación existente y la riqueza natural del entorno.
This elementary 7 x 31-meter volume has undergone a number of volumetric movements until reaching its final configuration. Its external appearance as a simple box contrasts with the interior, which is the result of subtractions that have shaped both the floor plan and the section.
The regular modulation of the overall structure contrasts with the organic, internal spaces. As a result, a series of intermediate spaces emerges between the interior rooms and the perimeter with different degrees of openness, courtyards, colonnaded areas, terraces, and double-height interior spaces that enhance the residents’ experience.
The entire perimeter is glazed, increasing the sense of spaciousness, directly reinforcing the connection with the exterior. Despite the module’s rigidity, determined by the glass partitions and the structure’s rhythm, the spaces still boast different morphologies and ways of relating to the exterior. The element of surprise is therefore key when exploring the spaces and discovering the variations between the rooms, thanks to the intriguing interplay between the interior and exterior.
Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec, Ciudad de México, 2016
This project is located on the coast of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s richest states in terms of culture and tradition. The design introduced traditional elements not as “craft objects” but as architectural elements based on their function and practical use.
The master plan for the reserve has identified a particularly beautiful site, with lush and changing vegetation in an area boasting a rugged and unique topography. This situation ensures that each element of the project becomes an independent unit emerging from the reserve. The reserve is car-free and circulation around the complex will use the same paths used during the construction. The design strategy prioritizes respect for the existing site and making a minimum environmental impact. The aim of creating outstanding architecture that aspires to go unnoticed produces an ambiguous relationship between the natural and the man-made elements within a continuous panorama of unspoilt natural spaces.
Mazunte, Oaxaca, 2014
Photographs: Ignacio Urquiza Seoane
Several organizations helped communities affected by Mexico’s September 2017 earthquakes, such as Ocuilan in the State of Mexico. We participated in one of the reconstruction initiatives organized by Pienza Sostenible, to provide a new home for Ángela an Juan’s family.
The family plot has a central patio around which different public and private constructions have been developed, responding to the needs of its inhabitants. Four families live on the site, which includes some communal spaces such as the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry area and the central courtyard. Ángela, Juan and their children were spread out in three separate rooms, a situation that affected the family dynamics. The proposal was for a private and compact space with bedrooms that could be adapted to their needs and stages of life, including the future growth of a fourth module. Likewise, an adjacent service tower contemplates a shared bathroom and shower for all the families that live on the site. The new construction links to the existing complex via an open, plant-filled courtyard, establishing a new, central space where the nuclear family can relax and also be in contact with their wider community.
Ocuilan de Arteaga, Estado de México, 2018
This 600-apartment tower was designed for a very narrow site in the upscale residential district of El Pedregal: this rocky terrain is home to numerous magnificent projects of modern Mexican architecture. The city’s growth and verticalization called for a reflection on the architectural values required for a project on this site.
In its golden era, this area enjoyed extensive gardens and works of modern architecture set among its rocks. This idea was the inspiration for the architectural concept, introducing the magnificent gardens inside the tower and emphasizing these characteristic local features in the memory of its inhabitants. To achieve this, we conceived a tower that is massive yet slender, solid but transparent. The surrounding perimeter garden penetrates the tower to fill its central patio, turning it into an immense hanging garden.
The ratio of the project’s proportions lends it dynamism, endowing it with very different perceptions depending on the observer’s viewpoint: on the short sides, the building appears like a slender tower, and on the long sides, the tower becomes massive, like a vast curtain.
The carefully ordered exterior contrasts with the organic and unstructured character of the plant-filled interiors of the volumes. The freely growing natural elements enrich the geometric rhythm. A contrasting composition emerges that highlights the qualities of each of the two orders and a chromatic relationship in which green appears as an essential hue.
Pedregal, Mexico City, 2015
In 2014, we were invited by Infonavit to participate in the “Regional Single Family Housing” program. Thirty-two architecture firms participated in this program: each one was given the brief to develop a social housing strategy congruent with the local characteristics of each state, and each studio was assigned a particular city. For the city of Puebla, an interdisciplinary urban study defined an appropriate housing model.
The core strategy was to increase the density of social housing within a given urban radius. We found a variety of sites that were potential candidates for housing construction; however, the irregularity and narrowness of many of them made them unsuitable for traditional social housing projects.
We therefore proposed a high-density program of single-family dwellings, using very small floor areas and resolving the program over three or four levels with a family of modular prototypes that could occupy these spaces in a density of up to 100 units per hectare.
For the design of the five prototypes, we began with an initial module with a 4.5 x 3 meter floor area. In this module 4.5 m2 are allocated for a core of services and 9 m2 for the “served” area. This is the minimum module that defines prototypes A and A’. Adding a further half-module creates the prototype B typology, and joining two modules forms the prototypes C and C’. This strategy produced a set of three vertical typologies with three variations.
Puebla, Puebla, 2014
The courtyard of this museum, one of Mathias Goeritz’s greatest works, is an iconic space in Mexico City. Its emptiness helps it to stand out against the density of the urban fabric, and the significance of the walls and those who created them contextualize it in the city’s history.
Revealing this void was the decisive strategy of the intervention, which found its form by generating a structure that makes it possible to materialize the volume it occupies, marking out and drawing attention to its powerful and unique geometry. The intervention floats in the interior, separated from the perimeter in a way that always honors the original work.
The first step was the process of filling the void with a three-dimensional grid—a system of 1 m3 modules in metal rebar—followed by an excavation of the resulting construction, removing modules to make it a livable space. The binding system employed hand-worked wire ties, a trade-specific working method that reveals the laborers’ skill.
The resulting construction is an exercise that encourages users to reflect on the relationship between addition and subtraction, and between solid and void.
San Rafael, Mexico City, 2013
Soil from the vineyard itself is the tower’s core construction material. Replacing the former observation platform, the new construction is built with the tepetate earth obtained during the excavation. The project champions the use of local materials and natural finishes to blend into its surroundings, a quality discernible in its appearance, construction language and sustainability.
The material’s texture and the lines left by the formwork are almost the only form of expression of this stripped-down volume which communicates how the construction system operates.
With a near-square, 25 m2 floor plan, a single gesture alters this pure geometry; a slight angle in one of the sides reveals the possibilities of departing from the norm, understanding variation as a nuance that can create meaning. This project is defined by its details: basic materials are crafted into a precise, carefully calibrated system whose ultimate purpose is to make itself available to the land it overlooks. The unevenness in the perimeter places the user about 60 centimeters below ground level, making it possible to look at the vines from an unusual point of view: it establishes an unexpected visual relationship, placing visitors inside this enclosed space. The tour begins crossing the esplanade surrounding the tower; from there, visitors can choose whether to step down or to climb up to the roof for a bird’s eye view over the vineyard complex. Combined, these three different perspectives enable a global understanding of the project.
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, 2010
Photographs: Ignacio Urquiza / ESTUDIO URQUIZA Taller de fotografía
This house was built on the roof of a mid-twentieth century construction. The new construction uses this situation to its advantage, by supporting its structure on the original, thus converting it into a foundation. As a result, in some cases, the walls below become pillars above, removing the partitions and permitting ample, diaphanous rooms thanks to the large concrete slab covering the space.
The new house preserves the same distribution governed by the corridor, with the rooms ranged along one side. The interior wall accompanying this passage becomes a calibrated division, and along its entire length a bespoke piece of furniture adapts to the requirements of each space.
Running parallel to this interior corridor, on the other side of the rooms, an exterior walkway creates a route along the length of the house via a terrace open to the garden, while the slender window frames blur the relationship between inside and outside spaces. This large, continuous window converts the interior into part of the surrounding urban landscape.
San Miguel Chapultepec, Mexico City, 2010
Photographs: Ignacio Urquiza / ESTUDIO URQUIZA Taller de fotografía
Located on the Oaxaca coast, this project explores the vernacular and traditional elements of Mexican Pacific architecture and observes the ways in which the elements interact with the habitable space through an indefinite sequence of open areas. The project’s spaces and functional aspects blend into the surrounding landscape thanks to the use of artisanal construction methods such as palapas.
The project consists of a series of eight palapas located on the plot, responding to the orientation and vegetation of the existing wetland. Their varying dimensions in plan and section, as well as their layout, depart from the traditional relationship between interior and exterior spaces, allowing the vegetation and landscape to be part of a symbiotic relationship.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, 2008
Photographs: Ignacio Urquiza / ESTUDIO URQUIZA Taller de Fotografía