Wellness takes centre stage in this Mexico house which employs sustainable practices and offers access to an abundance of outdoor greenery.
The global pandemic has brought about many changes in almost all facets of our lives. Among these, architecture and design have been called upon to reshape our living environment as we try to live a healthier and happier life.
When the pandemic dawned on the world, a young couple with a child decided to rent a weekend retreat long term to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Their home sits on a three-hectare site in the idyllic rural village of Valle de Bravo, where the pine and fir forests carpet the surrounding hills, and the crystalline lake dialogues with the abundant wooden landscapes.
“The main goal was to guarantee a privileged view of the forest. At the same time, the client wanted to leave the avocado field on the site intact, which inspired us to literally ‘bury’ the house in the ground level,” said Francisco Pardo, founder of Francisco Pardo Arquitecto.
Building the house from the ground-up, the Mexican firm conceived a peaceful living space stripped of superfluous embellishments for the family to engage with their inner wellbeing. The team leveraged the topography – a slight pitch of the site – to excavate and place the dwelling under the earth such that it’s hidden from plain sight.
“Though the house is located in an area affected by considerable temperature variation between day and night, there is no need for air conditioning during the day, or heating during the night, what with the enhanced thermal conditions,” Pardo explained.
In addition to affording health benefits, the architectural feature also generates as minimum an impact on its surrounding environment. Nestled in a valley flanked by verdant mountains, the house is covered by an avocado field that slopes down into a dense forest and glen, a fact from which the name “Avocado House” was derived. The panoply of avocado trees and treetops of the lush forest now sprout above the concealed and unassuming building, cultivating a living environment that’s relaxing and laid-back.
To function as a weekend home, the building set out to preserve the natural elements and is designed in such a way that requires very low maintenance. Inside, the 2,648 square-feet interior unfolds as a large exposed concrete container designed in a minimalist open-plan layout.
A commodious open space leads directly to a terrace with a hot tub facing the forest. Featuring a range of custom-designed elements such as the kitchen island and the black metal fireplace, the house comes complete with a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen, along with a master bedroom, the kid’s bedroom, two additional guest rooms and a studio.
Underpinning the natural vibe and pared-down aesthetics are materials kept as simple as possible.
“As the site takes two hours of commute from Mexico City, we needed to use simple materials such as concrete, stone and wood, and make all the furniture on site,” Pardo said.
Whereas the bare concrete structure is combined with walls coated in chukum (a natural stucco sourced from the Yucatan region and widely used in Mexican architecture), the partitions were made of pinewood recycled from the falsework of the construction process.
With the clutter-free surfaces and bare walls, the home feels like a space where one can just breathe, kick-back and free up the mind.
An equally sustainably sourced cabin, built above the house in leftover wood from the casting, serves as a storage room and vantage point to the splendid panorama of nature. The rear end was set up as an interior patio providing a second source of sunlight and clean air, both of which are conducive to the health and wellbeing of the family.
The sense of order, simplicity, calmness and restraint are what makes the home alluring, while the abundance of outdoor greenery integrated into the house adds life and texture to an otherwise overly sterile atmosphere.
On one side, the house enjoys a sweeping view of untamed greenery; on the opposite, a refined landscape. By skilfully adapting to the site and putting the residents’ wellbeing at the forefront, Avocado House is a textbook case of the symbiosis between architecture and nature, wildness and domesticity.