by Jerry ElengicalJan 17, 2023
Casa Tejocote is a single-family house located in the semi-desert, suburban setting of Querétaro in Mexico. While responding to the geographical context and the architectural heritage of its colonial past, Casa Tejocote exudes simplicity and equanimity. It manages to offer the residents their privacy while maintaining a connection to the outdoors. The residential architecture is a fusion of solid volumes, veiled from the exterior but open inwards into a central courtyard, generating visual connection all through the building. The orthogonal volumes are separated, based on a building program that manages to segregate the public, semi-public and private areas of the house.
GOMA Taller de Arquitectura is a Mexican architecture firm with a multi-disciplinary team. The underpinning idea in their practice revolves around simplicity. Their design process entails an exploration for the form and function of the space situated in the context, respecting its pre-existence and embracing the natural environment. A statement from the Mexican architects reads: "All projects are approached as a mathematical equation that solves the client's wishes, integrates the context, and has a strong sense of life within the space. The solutions are characterised by simple design forms, the use of natural light, and materials that allow the project to become more profound and meaningful over time.”
To understand and appreciate the design, it is crucial to understand its wider context. The city of Querétaro is known for its old-fashioned charm and a delightful collection of churches and historic structures that display hues of ochre and pale pink. Standing as a striking testament to the city's architectural legacy, Casa Tejocote, blends with Querétaro's traditional style. An integration of natural elements and seamless movement between sheltered and open-air spaces characterises the modern language of architecture in the country. Developed by Mexico’s modernist masters, is the unique language of an indoor-outdoor typology of buildings where the aesthetics are defined by cubist forms and open plans with spatial qualities suited to local weather, lifestyle and cultural traditions. In this thought-out fluidity between inside and outside, gardens are considered rooms, integrated into the house and rooms flow barrier-free into terraces.
The 650 square meters of constructed area of the house is distributed on two levels, separating the social areas from the private areas. The ground floor houses a living room, dining room, kitchen, and service spaces, while on the top floor there are three bedrooms and a family room. The initial challenge faced by the architects was to ensure privacy in each room while adhering to the regulations that prohibited the use of fences around the building. The carefully crafted residential design creates a sense of shelter and seclusion throughout the house. The building consists of four distinct volumes surrounding a spacious central garden, forming a protective wall-like structure for the living spaces. A bridge connects these volumes, adding a lighter and more open element to the design. Meticulous incisions were made in the walls of the modules, serving multiple purposes—allowing subtle streams of light to enter, framing scenic views of the landscape, and seamlessly integrating the interior with the outdoor areas. As a result, the interiors have direct access to either the garden or a patio, establishing a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.
The main volumes of the house are constructed using reinforced concrete elements, with walls layered and poured at regular intervals of eighty centimetres. This rhythm and modulation of the interior spaces, openings, and other architectural elements are influenced by this construction approach. Although the volumes maintain an overall rigid and rectangular structure, the inclusion of curved details bring a sense of gentleness to the geometry, creating an environment that is more nuanced and emotionally engaging.
Casa Tejocote embraces a natural material palette that actively engages with the environment, creating a dynamic atmosphere that responds to sunlight and offers glimpses of the lush surroundings. The central garden holds significant importance in the habitability of the house, as the modules are designed to open up towards it, allowing the family to engage in activities in harmony with nature. The surrounding wild and endemic vegetation seamlessly integrates the architecture with the surrounding landscape. Throughout the interior and exterior, a warm simplicity prevails, derived from the overall atmosphere of the house. Pigmented concrete, with its inviting tepetate colour shades, contributes to the welcoming character of the spaces, harmonising with natural light and the surrounding landscape. The emphasis on discreet materials ensures that light and spatiality remain the primary focus. Despite architecture often being considered a precise and calculated discipline, this house exemplifies how the right proportions and volumes can create a naturally cozy atmosphere.
Name: Casa Tejocote
Location: Querétaro, México
Project date: 2021
Built area: 650 m2
Architect: GOMA Haus
Photography: Ariadna Polo, Miguel Ángel González