by Devanshi ShahJan 03, 2022
The design of the Zicatela House in Mexico is a result of an experiment with the typology of the house and how a design can re-innovate the way we live and function. A new methodology of positioning spaces, landscapes, entrances and foyers speaks volumes of how one can reimagine the experience of a home.
The Zicatela is a small weekend home located on the top of a hill in front of the Zicatela Beach, next to Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca. The house has been designed as an introverted plan with the primary purpose of providing the owner an opportunity to escape Mexico City to take a break from the urban life. The house has been built to provide the client a place to relax, while enjoying the beautiful scenes of the Mexican coast and the peaceful light of Oaxaca.
The design of the house responds to the dual landscape on either sides. On one side rests the beach with the sea in the background, while on the other side lie the mountains and agave fields, the plant from which mezcal and tequila are prepared. This project has a contrasting personality and existence of being a countryside house next to the sea, instead of a beach house, which would be the primary response of any architect, designer or owner.
The Zicatela House is based on this duality, the duality of its surroundings and that it is able to respond to the mountains and be protective as a fortress, while at the same time offer a widely open space; giving one the feeling of living outside in a courtyard, making the threshold between inside and outside disappear.
Designed with contemporary elegance, the house poses a modern metaphor to the idea of the fort and bring the two elements - exposed concrete and wood - in its purest form together.
The house is a bunker on the outside, one of those massive concrete structures I used to see in Normandy - where I was born - protecting a Mexican pyramid on the inside; one of those I used to see when I travelled around in Mexico, the country where it's been 10 years now that I live and work. – Ludwig Godefroy
The Zicatela has been built on a small 300 sqm plot, using a typology of defensive architecture, where a wall surrounds the terrain completely, helping create a 100 percent controlled area on the inside. This turns it into an open-to-sky fortress, with only one main view towards the sky, as the architect believes it is ”the only permanent element in time”.
The contemporary design of the house juxtaposes a number of staircases that not only connect the two levels but also provide a visual experience and access to the roof. One enters through a pivoting wooden door into a doorway formed between two staircases that open into a courtyard. Four amphitheatre-like staircases create a central space, one part of which houses the kitchen and the dining area. This space then becomes the central thoroughfare of the house, and this formation makes one believe into the idea of staircase becoming a social space for interaction and communication, which can be seen in various examples in history.
Two courtyards or open-to-sky spaces exist on either sides of a broad and long passageway. Two bedrooms and a storage facility are provided at the corners of this cuboid, while the third bedroom is placed at an obtuse angle to the entire geometry, giving it much importance, privacy and aloofness. A rectangular swimming pool seperates the entire cuboid from this bedroom, making the construed space appear floating and separate from the rest. The staircases give access to the roof that act as a platform to overlook the beautiful vistas on both the sides.
Much importance has been given to the details such as the way the doors appear, flush with the external surface, the pivot doors, the finish of the concrete, the landscape and other elements that bring together the entire experience.
The external appearance of the house is that of a fort giving one almost no clue of what may be inside. The house internally appears like an oasis in the dessert, a refreshing new layout and austerely open to the sky in its entirety.