HW Studio divides a rural Mexican house with large stone walls
HW Studio Arquitectos has completed a cruciform house with open-air corridors and courtyards tucked between locally quarried stone walls in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Based nearby in Morelia, HW Studio Arquitectos finished the 250-square metre (2,690-square foot) house, named Casa Enso II, in 2022, drawing on vernacular designs, cultural expression and local history of the Guanajuato region.
Fifty-centimeter-thick sand-coloured stone walls serve as both the defining feature and the organizational strategy.
Arranged in a cross, the walls form four quadrants, framing the spaces and shield stone alleys for circulation.
“The dispersion of these spaces forces a permanent pilgrimage between spaces,” said lead architect Rogelio Vallejo Bores.
“It makes you come into contact with the earth, the air, and the mountain as if it were an ancient monastery, framing the landscape but at the same time forming a natural part of it.”
The southwest quadrant serves as the entry with a welcoming endemic garden, while the northwest quadrant is reserved for parking, using the existing trees to shade cars from the sun.
The centre of the plan is slightly sunken into the earth, and the alleys and the surrounding land ramps can be accessed via stone stairways.
The northeast quadrant holds the one-bedroom home. Organized in a bar plan, the rectangular volume separates public spaces from private ones with an inset volume containing a bathroom, dressing room, and service space.
The stone walls are broken by nearly invisible floor-to-ceiling glass that allows the heavy, single-plate roof and polished floors to continue outside the envelope of the house and orient the rooms to the arid exterior landscape.
The final quadrant holds a separate two-storey office space. The square form is the only vertical element on the site and references the Santa Brígida mine in Mineral de Pozos. The block is punctured by an open-air linear window.
“We fancied the idea of seeing silhouettes from the outside as if performing in a play,” Bores said. The most prominent window faces south and frames a view of the long mountain of Santa Maria, an essential focal point in the city.
Particular attention was paid to the allocation and installation of the stone, which was extracted only 20 minutes from the rural site, Bores explained.
The limited resource required the team to be precise, orderly and efficient to meet the financial and architectural expectations, as well as generate a circular economy for the area.
In addition to the thermal mass of the stone walls, photovoltaic panels reduce the home’s energy consumption.
“Everything has a reference to the past,” Bores said. “This house is based on decisions that have to do with classic modern architecture mixed with Mexican vernacular tradition, automatically linking us to Luis Barragan in that sense.”
Comparatively, HW Studio also completed an angled house in Morelia that steps down a slope and defines spaces with both light and dark walls.
The photography is by César Béjar.
Lead architect: Rogelio Vallejo Bores
Architects: Oscar Didier Ascencio Castro, Nik Zaret Cervantes Ordaz
Clients: Cem Turgu and Adriana Alegria
Furniture: namuh, Luis Fernando Luna
Film: Montse Roma and sabi