written by:
November 22, 2010

On a gently sloping lot in the middle of a pine forest at the northern edge of Cuernavaca, Mexico, is a family compound with a recent addition conceptualized by local architect Alfredo Raymundo Cano Briceño of T3arc. Linked to the 1,300-square-foot main house by a glass-covered footbridge, the addition, which measures just under 500 square feet, includes three bedrooms and one bathroom for the children, Santiago, Mariano, and Natalia, who range in age from three to eight. Working within a tight budget for owners Fernando and Geny, Cano repurposed pine he had used as framework for previous projects, and covered the exterior with protective clear plastic panels he retrieved from an industrial landfill. Cano says the structure fits well with the surrounding eclectic architecture, which ranges from traditional brick and Spanish colonial–style houses to the postmodern style of the main house. “Mexico’s diversity of architecture makes a perfect disorder,” he says.

Cano implemented small windows on one side of the addition to protect from cold north winds, and extended an existing retaining wall with rocks found onsite, upon which he anchored the foundation. To protect the structure from the humidity, Cano completel
Cano implemented small windows on one side of the addition to protect from cold north winds, and extended an existing retaining wall with rocks found onsite, upon which he anchored the foundation. To protect the structure from the humidity, Cano completely clad it in recycled plastic panels. Load-bearing framing beams are visible through the horizontal window. Photo courtesy T3arc
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Chivo and Gunter frolic on the sloping lot, which dips below the bridge connecting the house with the addition. “We did three different types of windows,” notes Cano. “Some allow ventilation and a great view of the trees, some let the kids feel closer to
Chivo and Gunter frolic on the sloping lot, which dips below the bridge connecting the house with the addition. “We did three different types of windows,” notes Cano. “Some allow ventilation and a great view of the trees, some let the kids feel closer to the main house where their parents are, and a couple more are for the dogs to jump outside.” Photo courtesy T3arc
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The sheen created by the plastic panels plays off of the bridge’s glass enclosure. “We did not want to put any varnish on the wood, so we started thinking we’d cover it all with glass,” says Cano. “It was terribly expensive, so we went to an industrial la
The sheen created by the plastic panels plays off of the bridge’s glass enclosure. “We did not want to put any varnish on the wood, so we started thinking we’d cover it all with glass,” says Cano. “It was terribly expensive, so we went to an industrial landfill where we found these used plastic panels.” As visible at the edge of the addition’s roof, Cano maximized light by using clear fiberglass panels for much of the roof, left over from the construction of the nearby Cafe 5, which Cano built from all-recycled materials. Photo courtesy T3arc
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Angled pine beams help support the bridge, and reference the diagonal lines of the 1,300-square-foot two-story main house, which was built in 2000. “The irregularity of the site allowed us to connect the addition to the second floor of the house, where th
Angled pine beams help support the bridge, and reference the diagonal lines of the 1,300-square-foot two-story main house, which was built in 2000. “The irregularity of the site allowed us to connect the addition to the second floor of the house, where the main room is,” says Cano. Photo courtesy T3arc
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With the clear plastic cladding, “not only is the wood not in contact with the rainwater, it looks like a part of the forest with the trees’ reflection on it,” says Cano. All told, the property measures about 5,000 square feet. Photo courtesy <a href="htt
With the clear plastic cladding, “not only is the wood not in contact with the rainwater, it looks like a part of the forest with the trees’ reflection on it,” says Cano. All told, the property measures about 5,000 square feet. Photo courtesy T3arc
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A view from the main house down the length of the bridge to the addition. Cano notes that there is no need to light the bridge, as the exterior lights on both structures keep it well illuminated, so little superheroes can find their way at night. Photo co
A view from the main house down the length of the bridge to the addition. Cano notes that there is no need to light the bridge, as the exterior lights on both structures keep it well illuminated, so little superheroes can find their way at night. Photo courtesy T3arc
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The boxy lines of the addition are a complement to the traditional arched doorway to the first-floor main entrance of the house. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.t3arc.com/">T3arc</a>
The boxy lines of the addition are a complement to the traditional arched doorway to the first-floor main entrance of the house. Photo courtesy T3arc
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Cano and the family wanted the bridge to be as much a part of the natural surroundings as possible. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.t3arc.com/">T3arc</a>
Cano and the family wanted the bridge to be as much a part of the natural surroundings as possible. Photo courtesy T3arc
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When asked about the green scale of this project, Cano says, “I think the most green element would be the family itself, as they are always concerned with taking good care of the surroundings.” Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.t3arc.com/">T3arc</a>
When asked about the green scale of this project, Cano says, “I think the most green element would be the family itself, as they are always concerned with taking good care of the surroundings.” Photo courtesy T3arc
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Sited perpendicularly to the main house, the addition opens into the garden on the left side, and overlooks the forest on the right. “The layout is very simple,” says Cano. “From the bridge you enter to a small lobby that connects you to the three bedroom
Sited perpendicularly to the main house, the addition opens into the garden on the left side, and overlooks the forest on the right. “The layout is very simple,” says Cano. “From the bridge you enter to a small lobby that connects you to the three bedroom doors, with the bathroom between the bedrooms.” Photo courtesy T3arc
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Cano implemented small windows on one side of the addition to protect from cold north winds, and extended an existing retaining wall with rocks found onsite, upon which he anchored the foundation. To protect the structure from the humidity, Cano completel
Cano implemented small windows on one side of the addition to protect from cold north winds, and extended an existing retaining wall with rocks found onsite, upon which he anchored the foundation. To protect the structure from the humidity, Cano completely clad it in recycled plastic panels. Load-bearing framing beams are visible through the horizontal window. Photo courtesy T3arc

Check out the slideshow for images of the project.

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