About an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is the small town of Litibú and its wealth of idyllic beaches. "There are around 100 people registered as living in Litibú, so it’s a quiet and simple town," says architect Diego Escamilla of architecture studio Palma. "We believe that with a landscape like this, architecture should take a step back, so you can feel and enjoy the power of the place."
The 164-square-foot retreat that Palma designed for an American couple does just that: A minimalist outpost surrounded by waving palm trees, it allows the tropical landscape to take the lead.
In their effort to put nature first, the architects arranged two simple volumes on either side of a connective courtyard that features an oculus carved out of the center of the roof. The residents pass through the courtyard when they move from the kitchen and living area to the bedroom and bathroom on the other side.
"The patio serves as a transition between public and private space," Escamilla says. "It forces you be outside, to look at the sky through the oculus."
Taken as a whole, the rectangular tiny house presents a void at the center—a void that welcomes a connection to shifting breezes, sunlight, and surrounding greenery. The rooms that flank the courtyard meld with the landscape, too, with wood-and-glass doors that fold completely open.
"Every room opens to the exterior and lets the outdoors in," says Escamilla. "The design looks to traditional tropical architecture in Mexico."
Smooth, gray stucco walls prevent the build-up of humidity and contrasts with the palapa roofing, which lends texture and references the surrounding flora.
"The climate was the main driver of the design," notes Escamilla. "The high, palapa ceilings let the hot air out, and natural ventilation is also facilitated by the folding doors."
Polished concrete floors, pigmented stucco walls, and built-in concrete furniture and shelving carry the understated and sculptural aesthetic of the exterior to the interior. Wood doors, cabinetry, and window frames add additional notes of texture and warmth.
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Palma’s design is at once artful, efficient, and experiential. In tying the tiny home to its epic landscape, the architects facilitate the discovery of— and a heightened appreciation for—the natural environment.
"It was important to create a built surface area that was compact and functional," Escamilla says. "The form responds to a layout that’s as minimal and functional as possible."
Construction: Cesar Robles
Photography: Luis Young
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