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by Dhwani ShanghviPublished on : Dec 19, 2022
The House in Singuilucan is located in the central-eastern state of Hidalgo in Mexico. Designed by Edgar Rodriguez of Mexico-based Operadora, the house sits on a site that is reminiscent of the North American prairie, on a ranch abutting a valley of nearby hills. This context of the sky, mountains on the horizon, the valley, rocks and vegetation are a portrayal of the geography of Mexico, established as a symbol of national identity by the 19th century Mexican artist José María Velasco through his series of paintings of the Mexican landscape.
Through the 'El Valle de Mexico'—The Valley of Mexico series, the naturalist painter not only captures the geography of the country, but also illustrates sprawls of architecture local to the context. These seemingly inconsequential symbols of vernacular architecture—characterised by an informal aggregation of volumes, and a sequence of horizontal planes—apprise the residential design of this small house on the Mexican ranch.
The concept of this Velascan landscape is developed primarily through the façade design of the residential architecture, manifested through an irregular silhouette against the stark landscape. The profile of the elevation steps up and down in a seemingly arbitrary configuration, but is in fact a reflection of the volumes it accommodates. The volume of the living areas and bedroom spaces progress upwards, while the toilets and other service areas are smaller volumes. The façade is lowest in front of outdoor spaces, which are adjacent to the two bedrooms. The solidity of the external wall is punctuated with large fenestrations, bringing in plenty of natural light to the interior.
The elevation on the other end of the irregular profile is characterised by sloping roofs with deep eaves, albeit limited to the volumes of the habitable spaces i.e the bedrooms, kitchen, and toilets. The exterior of the brick architecture is an expression of that horizontality, as an impersonation of the vernacular built form seen in Velasco’s paintings. This horizontality is further enhanced through the use of a stretcher bond in the construction of the brick walls. The long, continuous, horizontal lines created by the mortar also aid in intensifying this simple, yet conspicuous concept rooted in the context the building sits in.
The plan is incarnated from the stepped elevation, and organises itself along this profile to accommodate the spaces within linearly. 100 feet in length, the entrance of the house is via the centrally located living area, which leads to the two bedrooms on either side, thus ensuring privacy while simultaneously eliminating long corridors in an arrangement that is acutely linear. The toilet area is a shared space, segregated functionally, and accessed from each of the bedrooms, with a small passage in front of the wash basin. Adjacent to the two bedrooms, outdoor spaces break the mass of the built form, while simultaneously providing a common space for the users to gather and enjoy the vast open space outside.
Beyond one of the bedroom courtyards, a small storage room with an adjacent outdoor space extends the linear mass. The outdoor spaces at each end of the house are open from three sides, with the wall of the stepped elevation on the fourth side, extended as such to accentuate the phenomena of linearity in the plan.
While the elevation is an expression in horizontality, the plan is identified by its linearity. The lack of corridors allows for a layout where the entrance of each space is aligned with the entrance of the space adjacent to it. Thus a 100-feet long enfilade—cutting across the length of the plan—creates a vista that visually connects all the spaces within, both private and public.
The House in Singuilucan is thus a contemporary architecture interpretation of an identity that was accorded to Mexican architecture in the 19th century, through the work of José María Velasco.
Name: House in Singuilucan
Location: Singuilucan, México
Area: 80 sqm
Year of Completion: 2022
Lead Architect: Edgar Rodriguez
Team: Alexis Ávila, José Juan Garay
Manufacturers: AutoDesk; Cementos Cruz Azul, Fester, Rotoplas, Ternium
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