On a hill overlooking Lake Avándaro in Valle de Bravo—a popular weekend retreat about two hours west of Mexico City—lies the low-slung CMV House. The terrain around the lake is steep, rocky, and verdant, abounding with water-carved cliffs and boulders. The home’s site, in particular, boasts vast views of the lake and the dramatic mountains that surround it.
Viewed from the front, the home is a rustic-modern affair that combines glass and exposed wood with a striking roofline. But the house actually exists on two levels—the other is just below a drop in the hill, so it’s not visible from the entrance. In order to work with the site’s natural slope, the architects, Mexico City’s Estudio MMX, built the house’s bedrooms into the side of the hill. They’re invisible from the entrance, but offer incredible views of the lake.
Aiming to complement, rather than outshine, the site’s natural beauty, the architects took a unique approach to the house’s program. By placing private rooms on a semiunderground level that’s built into the hillside, the architects were able to give every room a stunning lakefront view.
The common areas are located above ground, in a pavilion under an undulating trapezoidal roof. Thanks to glass curtain walls tucked under the generous eaves, sweeping views can be taken in from everywhere in the house.
"The main actor here is not the house, but the landscape," says Estudio MMX principal Diego Ricalde. Ricalde and his partners Jorge Arvizu, Ignacio del Río, and Emmanuel Ramírez founded the firm in 2010, and they work collaboratively on every project they design.
Being a lake house, the residence offers ample spaces for outdoor living. A large patio, off of the corner of the house, provides magnificent views of Lake Avándaro from under the roof, whose single pitch and wavering edge call to mind a tent or pavilion.
Additionally, there is a living room with a modern, hanging fireplace for enjoying the scenery on chillier days. A wraparound covered walkway furthers the idea of living both in and around the house. A swimming pool is discretely located over to the side of the property, nestled among large boulders. Rather than competing with the lake, it offers a grotto-like retreat from which to view the house’s interaction with the landscape.
The upper level is tucked under the main roof, and features materials like exposed honey-colored timber, clear glass, and gray roof tiles. The lower level, which is built into the side of the hill, uses more earthy materials like concrete and stone.
"The materials through which we developed our construction system are similar to those in the region," says Ricalde, who believes that the use of traditional materials and local building knowledge further integrates the building with its physical and cultural surroundings.
The combination of natural materials with warm, earthy tones, a roofline that mimics the silhouette of the surrounding mountains, and the discrete, two-level design yields a subtle home that coexists with its surroundings while offering a prime spot from which to enjoy them.
Architect of Record: Estudio MMX
Builder/General Contractor: Tuca, Jose Luis Salamanca
Structural Engineer: Adrián Izquierdo
Landscape Design: Estudio MMX, GDU
Lighting Design: Estudio MMX
Cabinetry: Estudio MMX