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Location: Mexico | Atotonilco   

Clients: Mayer Shacter + Susan Page     Contractor: Guadalupe Gonzalez Morales     Photographs: Courtesy of House + House Architects

Site Area: 8 Acres     Project Area: 8,000 Sq. Ft.     Completion Year: 2006 


In the high desert of central Mexico an abandoned rattan factory sat decaying among ancient trees by the Rio Laja.  A ceramic artist and a writer saw in the property a new life with home and studio.  The two existing buildings offered little inspiration, but the survey provided core ideas for the design. An alignment to the ancient church of Atotonilco led to the forms and choreography of movement through the buildings.


A meandering driveway allows the approach to be a discovery.  The buildings rise into view, deep red among the lush green and coarse grey of the weathered trees, as though being unveiled by the earth.  The circuitous journey penetrates to the very heart of the main building where the massive glass entry door pivots on the geographical center of the building and the core point of the interlocking geometries.  Water trickles down textured walls into a reflecting pool at the entry, beside fire, earth and air, each heightening the senses. 


Living, dining, kitchen, library and master suite spill onto layers of terraces.  A long stair climbs over three guest suites to a loft and rooftop ‘mirador’ with multi levels of terraces for watching summer thunderstorms or daily sunsets.  Bi-folding doors open the master bedroom to sculpted stairs and private gardens.  The tile wrapped, vaulted master shower opens to the treetops, the tub shaped to the angles and curves of the owner for comfortable reading. Terraces and gardens weave together, reaching delicately to embrace the natural landscape. The lap pool soars into space beneath gnarl­ed branches of ancient trees, infinity edges reflecting the sky. 


The circuitous journey into this home continues in the flowing forms of the windows, mantles, ceilings, terraces, railings and cabinets.  Forged by the blacksmith, the doors and windows are a wonder of craftsmanship; hand formed concrete sinks and elaborate tile murals are handmade; light fixtures are crafted in glass and steel; cabinets are stained in translucent luster; a curvaceous roof links home to studio. The owner’s collection of ethnic folk art is evident in every niche and wall.

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