The concept of home is often synonymous with that of a sanctuary—a secluded retreat that offers escape from the world. It was this desire for privacy that drove the form of a home in Mexico City for a mother, who works as a hotelier, and her three daughters aged 15, 14, and 11. The resulting home—the first residential project by Mexican industrial designer Hector Esrawe—offers the family a verdant oasis hidden behind an imposing and protective brick facade.
"The brief was mostly based on how to achieve moments of interaction amongst the family in everyday life," says Esrawe. "The house provides a constant feeling of warmth and safety, and different spots that allow the family to relate to the courtyard and its lush expression."
Casa Sierra Fría is located in Lomas de Chapultepec in Mexico City. The residential area surrounds Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere. Many of the buildings in the area date back to the 1920s, and feature traditional brick constructions, which inspired the materiality of the monolithic built form. "Because of its format and scale, it stands out immediately," says Esrawe. "The brick relates to the property’s surroundings and is contemporary yet not invasive."
The volume of the home wraps around the internal courtyard in a horseshoe shape. A setback on three of the four sides allows the main volume to express itself as a monolithic mass floating in the center of the site. The red bricks used in the facade have been extended onto the ground plane to form patios at the side and parking space at the front.
"I have always felt attracted to the brick and the extensive use of it in Latin American architecture," says Esrawe. "We also have a heritage from colonial constructions where the main facade allows little or no visual access from the outside, and the space is mainly oriented toward an inner experience. While I especially have memories of many patios in Oaxaca City, this type of construction extends all over Mexico."
While the home is brutalist and monumental on the outside, the interior is a lush oasis, with a more intimate and human scale. "We wanted to use a single material to create the skin of the home and believe that brick has a powerful expression and a timeless, warm character," says Esrawe. "Behind this facade, the interior is an organic contrast, with a richness of expression and soothing, peaceful feeling."
The entrance to the home is through a simple cavity in the brick facade, which leads to a brick-clad antechamber with an enormous front door crafted from oak veneer. This door opens into the marble-floored circulation space, that runs around the massive garden in the central courtyard. Through the glass walls that enclose the courtyard, the different areas of the ground floor are visible.
To the right of the entrance is the living room, which has been sunken to create a more immersive relationship with the courtyard. On the opposite side of the courtyard is the dining room, terrace, kitchen, and access to the basement wine cellar.
"The internal courtyard is the heart of the house," says Esrawe. "All the spaces on the ground level have direct access through it, and all the rooms above look over it. We took advantage of the orientation of the house to allow the courtyard to receive light throughout the day and to distribute the same light to the different spaces in the house."
Timber stairs lead to the first floor, on which more private spaces, including bedrooms, a family room and study, and a second terrace, are located. A roof garden that overlooks the courtyard and rear terrace can be accessed from the family room. "The home has different spots for different activities at different moments," says Esrawe. "This allows the family to be all together or have moments on their own."
"The biggest challenge with this project was walking the client through the concept of the house," says Esrawe. "She was not confident along the way that the outcome would relate to a human scale or not be too cold. Now, however, she couldn’t be happier! The monolithic and rigorous expression of the brick contrasted with the lushness of the patio brings this project to life."
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Related Reading: 15 Enchanting Homes in Mexico City That Retreat From the Bustle
Architect of Record: Esrawe Studio
Structural Engineer: CARUNTI
Civil Engineer: Leydam Consultores SC
Landscape Design: Entorno Taller de Paisaje
Lighting Design: LUA Luz en Arquitectura
Interior Design: Esrawe Studio
Sound Engineer: COR Ingeniera
Cabinetry Installation: COR Ingeniera
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