This Lush, Underground Home Is a Hideaway Fit For a Hobbit
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This Lush, Underground Home Is a Hideaway Fit For a Hobbit

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By Michele Koh Morollo
On a hilly site near Mexico City, architect Javier Senosiain has created a remarkable home inspired by the shape of a peanut.

When it was completed in 1984, the 1,873-square-foot Organic House was ahead of its time. Senosiain designed the unique home to seamlessly integrate with the natural landscape: "The green dune wraps itself around the inside spaces almost completely, rendering it almost invisible so that, from the outside, all one sees are grass, bushes, trees, and flowers." 

The floor is covered by a carpet that’s the same color as the walls.

The floor is covered by a carpet that’s the same color as the walls.

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"To take a walk in the garden is to walk over the roof of the house itself without even realizing it," says Senosiain. The Mexican architect is well known for his organic architecture—to date, he has built houses inspired by the shape of a snake, a shark, a flower, and a mushroom.

Trees, bushes, and flowers create a green barrier that provides privacy.

Trees, bushes, and flowers create a green barrier that provides privacy.

The living room features a hand-shaped chair by Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg, and a Bubble chair by Eero Aarnio.

The living room features a hand-shaped chair by Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg, and a Bubble chair by Eero Aarnio.

Modeled after the shape of a peanut shell, the house is composed of two cavernous oval spaces connected by a narrow passageway. One chamber contains the private areas, which are used mainly at night, while the brighter chamber contains the social areas.

The smoothly sculpted interior flows organically from room to room.

The smoothly sculpted interior flows organically from room to room.

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The Organic House looks like a set of rolling hills when viewed from afar.

The Organic House looks like a set of rolling hills when viewed from afar.

The living room resembles a large eye with a curved window and an eyelash-like eave that protects against dust, wind, sun, and rain.

The living room resembles a large eye with a curved window and an eyelash-like eave that protects against dust, wind, sun, and rain.

Although the interior of the house feels like an underground cave, it’s connected with the lush landscape by a large window. 

"The house, which includes a living room, dining room, and kitchen, and another place for sleeping, with a dressing room and bath, was based on the elemental functions required by man: a place to live, and fellowship with others," says Senosiain. 

South-facing windows capture the winter sun while framing the best views of the garden. 

South-facing windows capture the winter sun while framing the best views of the garden. 

Taking into consideration the impact of bioclimatic conditions on inhabitants' physical and psychological well-being, Senosiain used trees and bushes to create green barriers that filter harsh sunlight, keep the interiors cool, and protect the house from dust and noise pollution. The Organic House's grassy green roof protects against heat and cold to maintain a comfortable interior temperature.

The home's walls, ceilings, and built-in furnishings are made of ferro-cement coated with a paste of marble powder and white cement.

The home's walls, ceilings, and built-in furnishings are made of ferro-cement coated with a paste of marble powder and white cement.

The living room features a bench filled with small polyurethane balls that conform to the shape and weight of the sitter.

The living room features a bench filled with small polyurethane balls that conform to the shape and weight of the sitter.

The kitchen features burners, a sink, and built-in pantry shelves.

The kitchen features burners, a sink, and built-in pantry shelves.

A tunnel leads from the living chamber to the private sleeping areas.

A tunnel leads from the living chamber to the private sleeping areas.

Upon descending a spiraling staircase, one arrives at the first oval chamber where the living, eating, and sleeping areas are located. From here, a narrow tunnel leads towards the second chamber where the sleeping nooks are located.

Cubbyholes in the bedroom provide storage for clothing.

Cubbyholes in the bedroom provide storage for clothing.

The bathroom features a sculptural sink and shower.

The bathroom features a sculptural sink and shower.

A skylit shower.

A skylit shower.

"This semi-buried house turned out to be sunnier and brighter than conventional houses because the windows can be placed anywhere, and the domes allow the entrance of sunlight from above. Ventilation is facilitated by the aerodynamic form of the dwelling, which allows free circulation of air throughout," says Senosiain. 

The architect sought to create spaces adaptable to the human body, "similar to the womb, an animal's lair, the troglodytes who carved a niche for themselves out of the earth, and the igloo," he adds.

Organic House roof diagram

Organic House roof diagram

Organic House interior diagram

Organic House interior diagram

Organic house cross section diagram

Organic house cross section diagram

Related Reading: 8 Subterranean Homes That Are Out of This World 

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Javier Senosiain, Arquitectura Orgánica

Collaborating Architect: Daniel Arredondo Bayardi 

Structural Engineering: Alfonso Olvera 

Sound Engineering: Eduardo Saad