by Sunena V MajuSep 19, 2022
At the coastal area of La Punta Zicatela, a surfing paradise in Oaxaca, Mexican architect Ludwig Godefroy has designed a concrete sanctum for contemporary nomads and surfers in the form of a boutique hotel, Casa TO. Redefining the conventional sophistication of hospitality architecture, the hotel sets a balanced backdrop for contemplation. Within the rawness of textures and materials, the space collates environmental and architectural elements to impart privacy and exposure. In a land where the sea, sand and cliff form a unique panorama to frame the golden sunsets, Hotel Casa TO exists as a concrete motif. By designing spaces that ebb and flow between the indoors and outdoors, engulfing land, water and nature, the architect presents the hotel as an oasis of peaceful indulgence. “The name, Casa TO, comes from the idea of serene contemplation of an enclosed space, like the reinterpretation of an Oaxacan temple, generating a radical sensory experience upon entering,” states the hotel. With the structure taking shape in the subtle minimalism of exposed concrete without any ornamentation or cladding of different materials, the architecture seems to draw inspiration from the signature style of Le Corbusier. Along with connecting the concept of beton brut to Mexican architecture, the hotel design’s open-plan interiors, rectilinear lines, vaulted volumes and open facade remain fragmented witnesses to this influence.
Extending a node to the sculptural expressionism of Corbusier's modern architecture, the facade design of Hotel Casa TO appears to be a miniature reminder of the Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh, India. However, by adding his principles of contextual architecture to the brutalist inspiration, Godefroy carefully integrates nature into the design in the form of greenery, blue water and the materiality of wood. Breaking the bulkiness of the volumes created by the materials, the fenestrations of the building adorn a circular shape imparting a sense of fluidity between the transition of spaces.
Within the singularity of the material that forms the floor, wall and ceiling, the structure appears to be a volume from which spaces were functionally shaped, designed and carved out. Though planned as different areas of the activity, the building rests on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with a singular identity, encompassing an architectural language that compliments all parts of the building. In an official statement, Hotel Casa TO says, "The structure evokes the reticulated pattern of two historical hydraulic works of timeless beauty: the Basilica Cistern or Yerebatan Sarayi of Istanbul, dating from the sixth century AD, and the Hornsey Wood Reservoir in Finsbury Park, London, built in the 19th century.”
Nestled in close proximity to Zicatela Ecological Community, in the 600 sqm space, the covered infinity pool and solarium become the focal point of Casa TO. The pool design with partition walls adorned in huge circular openings extends a dramatic perception to an otherwise mundane waterbody. With its terraced layout, the solarium has divisions to provide privacy in each area. The structural volume adjacent to the pool and solarium homes the suites. With a structure that provides thermal comfort from the external heat, the ground floor has six rooms with gardens and the first floor has three with a terrace and outdoor bath.
Inspired by the natural pattern of a Madagascar Blue Bismarck palm tree standing on the original site, the interior design of Casa TO relates with the natural surroundings. Following a subtle natural colour palette, the lamps are designed by Natural Urbano studio. Adding to it, the furniture design adorns the craftsmanship of expert carpenters from Puebla, Guadalajara, and Oaxaca, conveying a sense of simplicity and delicacy. Bringing character to the spaces, the textures are emphasised by the bamboo pieces designed by Tiago Solís Van Beuren. "These unique pieces, which display the richness and creativity of talented local artisans, may be purchased by guests under a fairtrade model, enabling them to introduce exceptional objects into their daily lives,” shares the hotel.
Extending their initiative to redefine the normalcy of hospitality industry, the hotel expresses their commitment to reducing its environmental impact by including a water treatment plant to reuse wastewater for the planted areas, solar panels to store energy and adopting a zero-plastics policy. Furthermore, the facilities at Casa TO adopt traditional herbalism practices commonly associated with Mayan and Hindu cultures with products based on ancient plants such as calendula, which possesses regenerative and therapeutic properties. Defining the experience of staying at Casa TO, the hotel shares, "It means taking a pause to reconnect with a contemplative experience in surroundings of abundant conceptual elegance and total serenity.” Encompassing the ability of hospitality design in defining the culture, lifestyle and essence of a place through spaces, can architecture direct a new paradigm in the hospitality industry for experiential travel?