Mexico City–based Estudio MMX designed this concrete and dark brick house around an existing garden that they found too beautiful to demolish. In order to keep the garden intact, the architects decided to break up the program of the living room, kitchen, dining area, and bedrooms, and split them up into individual units set along the garden’s edge.
"The volumes are connected through transitional spaces that frame views of the garden, encouraging residents to make pauses while moving through the house." Says Diego Ricalde, one of Estudio MMX’s four partners. The house’s unique layout is intended to promote a connection between the inhabitants and the natural surroundings.
When a person moves through the house, the lush subtropical garden is their constant companion, framed in the massive windows that are the centerpiece of most rooms, and at the edges of concrete walkways and terraces. When walking from one room to another, a person moves through the garden instead of simply through a doorway.
On the second floor, where the home’s more private spaces are located, the relationship with the garden becomes at once more intimate and more removed. "We wanted to compliment the interior spaces with outstanding views, allowing the owners to enjoy different ambiances from inside the house but also allowing them to extend their activities to the outdoors," Ricalde tells Dwell.
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The house’s rectilinear volumes, neutral colors, and hard materials create an elegant contrast with the verdure of the site’s plantings. The effect is striking, and the contrast serves both to highlight the architecture and create a structured geometric background for the garden’s stunning ferns and palms.
The black brick that the architects selected for the exterior and some interior walls calls to mind volcanic rock and provides a welcome relief from what could have been too much concrete. The architects also like it for its unique reflective properties. "What we like the most is its capacity to reflect and diffract light, which allows for changes in the spatial planes of the house throughout the day." Says Ricalde.
Inside, exposed wooden rafters add some warmer tones to a home whose color palette, apart from the garden, is dominated by grays and blacks. The exposed rafters also break up some of the structure’s orthogonal lines and compliment the lightness created by the large windows and high ceilings in the home’s interior spaces, like the living and dining rooms.
The home’s owners found Estudio MMX through a friend whose house the studio also designed. Formed in 2010 (MMX in Roman numerals), the firm is a partnership between four architects: Ricalde, Jorge Arvizu, Ignacio del Río, and Emmanuel Ramírez. They work collaboratively on each of their projects, which run the gamut from single family homes like CMR House, to larger urban installations.
Architect of Record: Estudio MMX
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