The SB house situated on the surroundings of Mérida, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, is intended to become the retirement and rest home for a couple composed of a photographer and an expert mixologist.
Considering its location in the Yucatecan jungle, we proposed a contextual project, where architecture responds to the requirements of climate, comfort, materiality and respect for the environment, while highlighting the background and culture of the site, the cradle of pre-Hispanic architecture.
The couple is passionate about Art Deco style, which encouraged us to carry out an exhaustive study of its guidelines and distinctive elements such as composition, harmony, pure and blunt forms, ornaments and ancestral references, in which the Mayan culture was essential for the movement’s inspiration1. We aimed to promote this relationship of inspiration and memory between the currents, and the result was an experiment that translates into a fusion between both, generating a contextual architecture that is contemporary and evocative.
1 Ancient Mexican Sources of Art Déco, by Oriana Baddeley.
The program proposal is based on a space that is divided into four volumes by a central courtyard in a cross’ shape. Based on the understanding of sunlight and the need for cross ventilation, this courtyard, covered in green ceramic mosaic, articulates the relationship between the volumes, becomes the vestibule and access, and at the same time, delimits the interaction between the social and private areas, generating fresh and shaded transition spaces, thus becoming the articulating axis of the project.
The large-format kitchen is equipped with the necessary elements to function also as a place for the exploration of mixology. The social area integrates in its double height a balcony for the photographer’s editing studio, which allows her to contemplate at all times the view of the jungle in front of the property.
Around these transition spaces, each volume, being independent, allows the articulation of different solutions for the program; changes in height, scale and configuration, bringing movement to the symmetrical expression of the project. This results in a dynamic program that offers diverse spatial experiences for the interior, and also favors natural ventilation and climate control without the need for air conditioning.
Corners are curved to encourage cross ventilation and the volumes’ orientation frames the green gardens to the north and south, while the sides remain sober to control the view towards the neighbors and to maintain privacy. Four major Deco elements are therefore reinterpreted: the curve, the vestibule, the symmetry, and the articulating center.
The house is framed and elevated on a foundation of local flagstone to enhance the continuity of the program, and a circular basin of the same stone refreshes the backyard to the South with flowing water. The chukum2 façades, full of handcrafted elements, harmoniously compose windows, gargoyles, lighting niches, hammock fixtures and large-format ziggurats.
Large windows are made out of wooden structures and shutters to ensure the ideal ventilation, light and shade conditions. The typical Art Deco eaves are therefore tropicalized, with an honest response to the climatic and constructive conditions of the area. A terrace covered with brick-colored ceramic tiles allows to enjoy the view of the jungle from the upper level.
2 Chukum is an endemic tree of Yucatan’s Peninsula that was used by the Mayans to make mortars and fine stuccos.