A circle, a sundial, an infinity: Wóolis residence by Arkham Projects
by Jincy IypeSep 01, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Zohra KhanPublished on : Feb 14, 2022
What comprises the tendency of a piece of architecture to impact one on a deeply sensorial level, and what goes lacking if its contact compounds to a sterile encounter? It’s probably character or the lack of it that distinguishes the two situations. An emotion always conjures a memory of a place, whereas a place could best be articulated when laced in an experience. Flicking through the photographs of a home in Mexico designed by native firm Natural Arquitectura, one could associate a story with every visual. The romance of polychromy, sparing yet luscious compositions breathing poetry, and a medley of rebellious planes extending to the sky or engrossed in a conversation with a sliver of light is how I would describe Casa Estudio Guerrero. The project draws inspiration from the architecture of revered Mexican modernists Luis Barragan (1902-1988) and Ricardo Legorreta (1931-2011), as well as the features of Mexican vernacular architecture.
Located in Santiago – a small town in the centre of the Mexican state Nuevo León – the building is surrounded by a low rise residential development and faces the north-eastern mountain range of Sierra Madre Oriental. Four storied, with two levels designed underground, the structure is embedded in the natural topography of its land. It is slotted on a descending terrain of nine metres in front and constitutes abundant vegetation around its periphery, which as per principal architect Ramiro Guerrero was left untouched in the construction.
Defined by an emphasis on light and colour, the residential architecture acquires character in the playfulness of its volumes, and the space sensitive nature of its surfaces and finishes. One enters into the building through the front wooden door fitted at the corner of a bright pink volume. The garage entry is from the adjacent volume painted terracotta-red; this particular volume, unlike the homogenous disposition of its vibrant neighbour, has a cascading form composed of visually independent storeys.
Programs of meeting and play which includes the living area, dining and kitchen, are aligned on the ground floor layout. The study room, designed as a gracious double storey volume, is kept on the lower-most basement level keeping the idea of focus and solitude in mind, and the upper basement has three single bedrooms. The top floor, kept rather private and independent of the other areas of the house, comprises a master bedroom that captures a panoramic view of the city. Ramiro Guerrero tells STIR that a focus on capturing the merits of natural resources gave him the idea to create an interesting water feature on this floor. Taking strong cues from the architecture of Luis Barragan is a ‘mirror of water’ designed as part of the extended rear balcony of the bedroom. “This,” Ramiro says, “was designed to collect rain and that it has plants that filter the water.” When water level rises above its threshold, it flows through a spout positioned on a corner which is part of a walled enclosure to a garden on the lower basement. The flowing water, in addition to nurturing the garden and later getting absorbed into the mountains, creates an ethereal imagery of nature interacting with architecture. Defining the experience one encounters on this floor, Ramiro says, “The master bedroom is where the magic happens, it is a sensory space that offers comfort, tranquillity and privacy. When you open the door, the view ends with a mirror of water that spills into the garden and extends with the mountains of the Sierra Madre offering incredible views, a relaxing and reflective place, the light bathes the mirror of water and fills the walls with colour.”
The materials and finishes have been chosen in rhythm with the spirit of the place. Concrete blocks, grey cement, sand, stone mixtures, and steel appear in eclectic applications. The exterior wall finish is a local "rustic zarpeo" and natural stone coating whereas subtle details are composed in wood and steel. The interiors reveal use of plastered walls, and polished concrete floors.
The architecture in all its chimeric and robust manifestations confront the viewer both on intellectual and emotional level. The beauty of simple yet highly sculptural compositions, the graceful synergy of light and space, and the permeating synchronicity of colours becoming backgrounds to the everyday ordinariness must be a sight to behold.
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The proposal by Haptic Architects and Oslo Works, comprising workspaces for marine industry, hopes to capture the fjord’s underwater life while anticipating its future.
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The Golden Lion was awarded to the Brazil Pavilion and DAAR under the National and International Participation for their exhibitions Terra and Borgo Rizza respectively.
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