by Amarjeet Singh TomarJun 27, 2023
Walking the tightrope between a pared-back aesthetic and an architecture that blends the traditional and modern, Casa CRA by Estudio MMX is built within a residential country club in Avándaro, State of México, embracing its voluminous, natural surroundings. Resting between a forest area beside a golf course, the home’s concrete contemporaneity is topped and inlaid with traditional wooden construction, a joyful union defined by four volumes that stretch in opposite and parallel directions, covered with pronounced gable roofs.
The residential architecture "rotates to generate diagonal landscape spaces that correct the relationship between the house and the rectangular plot, while the gable roofs serve as visual platforms that direct the views to the exterior landscape," share co-founders Jorge Arvizu, Emmanuel Ramirez, Ignacio del Río and Diego Ricalde of the Mexican studio named after the Roman numeral for 2010, the year the practice officially began.
Strong and clear in its purpose and form, Casa CRA is built for a married couple who had differing opinions on what the style should be – one partner wished for a concrete, contemporary house while the other desired a more traditional, cosier wooden cabin privy to Mexican architecture. "The principal challenge was to make sure we brought their needs on the same page, adding ingredients of both cuisines onto one pan and whip up an honest design," says the firm based in Mexico.
Estudio MMX relays that because of the site’s mountainous nature, the building regulation inferred the need to preserve the rustic character of the place through architecture. “In most cases, regulatory constraints are real challenges that are solved through analysis and design. The design of Casa CRA proves a stylistic hybridisation strategy, with the double purpose of giving continuity to the character of the whole, at the same time, articulating, in an alternative way, the different spaces and the program of the house,” explain the Mexican architects.
The light-filled, preened residential design program consists of the main dining room, a large living room and kitchen, an outdoor dining area, four main loft-type bedrooms, as well as elevated gardens, landscaped areas, and a swimming pool. The four volumes are designed to accommodate an entire family in each of the lofts, taking advantage of generous heights and planned mezzanines. The material palette displays simplicity and strength - a base of concrete contacts the gently sloping terrain first, while the second level embraces a predominantly wooden frame – becoming a strong foundation while maintaining the look and feel of a cabin in the forest. Concrete dresses the lower floors while the roof, and subsequently the floors of the upper levels are done in warm timber, a cosier setting that seems to invoke Japanese minimalism.
The main garden emerges around the slightly rotated dwelling on approach, as the public areas like the living room, kitchen, patio and swimming pool come into view. Rooms on the upper floor are arranged around a central space that captures and distributes sunlight and warmth via a flat skylight into the interiors, creating a median meeting space on this level. This includes spaces converted into observation platforms that have visual shots towards the different views of the forest.
Casa CRA is intimate yet expansive and manages to follow clear bioclimatic principles, harvesting sunlight and heat to maintain living comfort conditions throughout its skin and insides. Vertical bands are cut into the house’s skin, choreographing the amount of sunlight that pervades the interior design, and is most succinctly achieved in the living room and the indoor pool that flirts with the landscape yet rests firmly within the poetic space. “At all times the immediate, mediate, and distant landscape were respected; in fact, the house is a homage to the existing landscape and touches the destined plot in the least invasive way possible,” says the design team.
“The construction system values local artisans, craftsmen and methods while creating spaces of international scope. Through observation and thinking, constructions can be achieved that offer different spatial, structural and formal results, through the rational use of material and human resources, also achieving a comprehensive spatial, formal and energy performance,” they add.
Estudio MMX’s sincere and full-bodied Casa CRA sets a definite precedent in the way alternative methods can be adopted to fit building regulations and safeguard the existing architectural image of the site and its natural environment. All this, while establishing an intelligent dialogue via material and form with tradition and contemporary times.
Name: Casa CRA
Location: Avándaro, Estado de México, México
Area: 590 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Architect: Estudio MMX
Founders: Jorge Arvizu, Emmanuel Ramirez, Ignacio del Río and Diego Ricalde