Situated in a remote corner of Southwestern Mexico, all that is visible when first arriving at this lush location are three barrel-vaulted roofs, each appearing to float above the dense canopy of vegetation.
A short path weaves through the unspoiled landscape, evoking ideas of ancient ruins as views of the structure disappear, then reappear again. Nestled in a small clearing, the series of structures, formed of recycled bricks and concrete, reveal themselves around a narrow reflecting pool.
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Built in 2018 by Mexico City based architects Ambrosi | Etchegaray, Casa Volta was inspired by Italianate vaulted ceilings and the availability of recycled materials. With a tight construction schedule, the firm's solution included reusing burned bricks from a local art studio, Casa Wabi, to create the barrel-vaulted roofs.
Jorge Ambrosi of Ambrosi | Etchegaray describes the team's impression when first visiting the site: "We were shocked by the landscape. Just the idea to create a shelter surrounded by the vegetation was very suggestive."
The client envisioned a meditative space in harmony with the surrounding nature. The firm accomplished this by building three modules and three terraces that alternate within the program. "We decided to play with modules and structures connected by terraces to create the intermediate relations with nature," adds Ambrosi.
Recently shortlisted for Architectural Review's 2019 House Awards, Casa Volta demonstrates how architecture and nature can blend together using a simple approach.
The Mexican architect Juan Carlos Cano describes the idea this way: "Constructive order does not have to be in contradiction with the apparent chaos that surrounds it; on the contrary, they can merge in a harmonious way."
When asked about the firm's overall design philosophy Ambrosi comments that the firm has no single way of working. "We are interested in the relationship between humans and nature. In our projects, we explore how architecture can help us redefine our understanding of nature and our presence in it. We believe that blurring the borders of our isolation can help us perceive nature as an extension of ourselves."