This Open-Air Retreat Feels Right at Home Nestled Between the Sea and Jungle

This Open-Air Retreat Feels Right at Home Nestled Between the Sea and Jungle

By Kathryn M.
Designed by Ambrosi | Etchegaray, Casa Volta stands out as a trio of vaulted structures made of recycled materials.

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.

Casa Volta, located in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, sits among a lush landscape mere steps away from the Pacific Ocean. The almost 1,300-square-foot plan is made of six rectangular areas—alternating between open terraces and the three covered structures. 

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. 

A long, narrow reflecting pool divides the rectilinear structures. Stained concrete pillars blend with clay-colored bricks, which were given their particular shade from prior use during the clay firing process at a local art studio.

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." 

Three terraces surround and connect each structure with the outdoors.  This shady area provides a relaxing space to enjoy the quiet location.

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.

The opposite side of the kitchen opens up onto an outdoor dining terrace. Above, grass grows along the roof at each end of the barrel-vaulted formations.

A true example of indoor-outdoor living, the kitchen space is open along one side and at each end. A large center island and simple shelving along the wall complete this minimal space.

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."

Small walkways cross over the reflecting pool to reach two bedrooms and two bathrooms housed on the opposite side. Sliding doors made of wood and reed divide each area.

Inside the bedrooms, exposed bricks create a striking atmosphere underneath the barrel-vaulted ceiling. A latticework of reed encloses the roof, allowing for easy circulation of fresh, warm air throughout the space.

The end of each bedroom opens up to a private brick patio connecting the two spaces. Doors along the side also open up to full expose the bedroom spaces to the pool. 

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."

Although just 300 feet from the beach, the home's location along the Pacific Coastline still feels secluded due to the surrounding dense, jungle-like greenery.

Project Credits:

Architect: Ambrosi | Etchegaray / @ambrosietchegaray  

Builder: Patricio Sodi

Interior Design: Década Muebles / @decadamuebles

Photography: Jaime Navarro

Photography: Sergio López


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