The world’s first biodynamic tequila distillery crowns the top of an extinct volcano in Los Altos de Jalisco. It is the heart of a new agro-tourism ecosystem and a community that weaves along a continuous corridor of sustainable agriculture and free-range.
The biodynamic community will be the home to an artisanal tequila distillery and a carefully tended extension of biodynamic agro-ranching, agro-tourism, natural hot springs, ranches, ethnobotany for homeopathic products, regional cuisine from edible gardens, sale of homegrown products, workshops for the practice and teaching of traditional crafts, a cultural center and school, artist residency and workshops.
This wide-ranging project was developed from the observation and learning of artisanal techniques, the differentiating elements of the area and the honesty of the materials through a language that speaks of respect for a rich cultural heritage and an experience of direct relationship with nature.
As a temple placed in a quarry, the distillery is half-buried, with panoramic views to the valley and a relationship of containment and tension with the natural stone that surrounds it. This allows, on the one hand, an ideal molecular environment for tequila distillation, emulating traditional processes. On the other hand, it makes perfect use of the excavation materials, which will later be used in the small constructions that will populate the land.
The building is composed of a series of pillars and cylindrical structures — which blend with the large tanks — made of locally produced brick that hold a single fifty-meter diameter circular slab. The program is hidden inside the structures, allowing the guest to wander around a forest of pillars, evoking a temple. The tahonas and the copper still, two traditional stages of the distillation process, are illuminated under the Boolean openings of the structure, creating moments of expositive character.
In an operative and theatrical action, the agave piñas are thrown from the jimado area through a large conical funnel, placing them in the center of the space between the ovens; the distillation process develops radially from this point.
A large burnt wooden lattice embraces the construction, creating a protective barrier against the sun rays and filtering the light, as well as favoring the natural ventilation that provides the necessary environment for fermentation.
With panoramic views to the valley and distributed along the hillside, the housing prototypes blend with the landscape, merging with it and integrating into the environment.
Inspired by the patio as the heart of traditional Mexican living, the stone base embedded in the mountain holds the most private areas of the house, which are articulated by patios and heavy stone walls, creating intimate and silent moments as well as cooling the temperature in the rooms.
A wooden structure of vernacular inspiration rises above the basement as a pavilion to shelter the activities of inhabitants, offering a view to the north over the large terrace.
A series of parallel walls of sculptural character are transversally embedded in the mountain slope. As a tribute to the region’s memory, the discreet and vernacular construction integrates the mountain into the interior of the room.
Guests enjoy an extensive panoramic view to the north, while to the south, a more intimate patio provides privacy and a framed scenario of the mountain.
The simple and local-inspired construction system weaves the rooms together. The wide stone walls built with local materials and the continuous wooden cover evoke the nostalgia of the region and simulate the natural topographic curves of the place to merge with them.
To the west of the property, on a young forest hillside, the cabins are spread where the horizon can be glimpsed through the thin tree trunks.
Inspired by the traditional open 3-stones fire — a resource of great importance for the historical and cultural legacy of the communities in the area — the shelters are surrounded by pristine nature and their wooden façades blend in with the landscape, going unnoticed by hikers. In the dark, they merge with the forest and the light emanating from inside flutters like fireflies at night.
The pile system allows an easy set-up on any slope or type of terrain, and the narrow proportion seeks to avoid the existing trees, respecting the premise of having a minimal impact on the site.
Hot Springs and Apothecary
Among Mesoamerican cultures, the temazcal had a ritual and healing purpose and a cosmological meaning. It represented the interior of the Earth and was a place of transition between the living world and the underworld. It was conceived as the entrance to the afterlife.
This ancient tradition inspires the creation of small stone constructions distributed on both sides of the river. Some are embedded in the ground, others are open to the sky and all of them are hermetic in appearance evoking a pre-existence or ruin. They offer different experiences related to wellness and meditation through water and temperature.
Connected through a wooden pathway that links both sides of the river, these sculptural elements materialize as stone volumes lost in nature.
Through the open-air hot springs, the user transits between outdoors and indoors, experiencing the range of temperatures.