About 100 miles southwest of Mexico City, nine black concrete blocks in a forest clearing make up one family's holiday home. Designed by Mexican architect Fernanda Canales with landscaping by Claudia Rodríguez, Casa Bruma makes elegant use of a construction material that's commonplace in Latin America.
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To preserve every existing tree on the site while ensuring that the interiors would receive sufficient sunlight in the morning and afternoon, the design consists of nine cuboid volumes that were strategically organized to create a central courtyard that is connected to the natural environment.
"The result is an ‘exploded house,’ where the dwelling is composed of isolated volumes that are placed according to the views, the orientations, and the existing vegetation," says Canales.
Each of the volumes has a different height that corresponds to the terrain it sits on. The layout and height differences give each cuboid structure its own independent identity, but the volumes remain unified by their board-formed, black concrete facades and flat rooflines.
Four volumes—one containing the living area, one containing the kitchen, another housing the dining, and the fourth serving as a sitting room—make up the common areas. These four main volumes are linked with covered walkways.
The remaining four volumes contain a private apartment, two guest rooms, a garage, and a utility room. Harvested rainwater is used for the gardens.
Five simple materials comprise the entire retreat: black concrete, wood, stone, metal, and glass. "The dialogue between interior and exterior, and the link between the different volumes, generates a unified image within isolated structures," says Canales. "Each volume molds into the topography, and makes the whole project seem to disappear into the landscape."