A Sculptural Wooden Staircase Steals the Show in This Mexico City Abode

A Sculptural Wooden Staircase Steals the Show in This Mexico City Abode

By Anna Squier
The ash staircase weaves together three floors, a warm contrast to glass, concrete, and brick.

Located in the center of Mexico City, the Cuernavaca House by Tapia McMahon entirely fills its site, closely abutting the adjacent streetscape. Upon entry, an ash stairwell extends from the ground floor to the roof terrace, acting as a sculptural element that connects all three floors. The striking residence has been selected for the RIBA International List for 2018.

Polished concrete tiles and a wooden bench furnish the entry space.  Light from above falls down onto the greenery, drawing the outdoors in. 

The wood-framed stair extends from the entry way to the rooftop terrace, connecting all levels and spaces. Lit from above, daylight splashes against each floor level. 

The first floor is arranged in an open, linear fashion, anchored by a top-lit, double-height space which fills it with natural light. The dining space and kitchen connect to a rear terrace via floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.  Wooden elements provide warmth against the concrete slabs and walls. A large bookcase anchors the double-height space, while a wood island and ceiling accentuate the kitchen. The wooden stair weaves the spaces together, from below to above, wrapping the concrete forms. 

Oscar Hagerman chairs and a Saarinen side table flank the bookshelf in the reading area. 

A subtle piece of artwork composed of graphite and ink on paper, created by Luis Felipe Ortega, hangs above the sofa in the living room.  A custom coffee table created by Tapia McMahon sits at the foot of the sofa. 

Arrullo Chairs surround an Arrullo Dining Table, both by Oscar Hagerman.  Pendant Light JL341 by Juha Leviska hangs delicately above the wooden table. 

Simple Alvar Aalto pendants hang below the wooden ceiling in the kitchen. 

At the rear terrace, reclaimed bricks build the elevation. Steel-framed windows and a large concrete-framed opening add simple entablatures to the reclaimed facade. 

At the front of the home, large windows and doors frame views of the street. A series of built-in planters soften the elevation, adding an organic element to the otherwise glass, concrete, and wood facade. 

A heavily planted terrace with cacti and flora provides a special retreat on the roof. Steel framing members are infilled with wooden slats to provide shade. Brightly colored seating areas decorate the outdoor lounge and dining space. 

Although located on a brownfield site, the home is sustainable in its construction and material. Concrete, composed of recycled aggregate, acts as a thermal mass for heating and cooling. Large windows and doors provide natural ventilation. Rainwater is stored under the ground floor, and used for watering the greenery. This well-designed home sets a gold standard in residential architecture. 


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