The understated and modern Casa El Pinar in Mexico revels in material authenticity

In Mexico’s Valle de Bravo, Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura and Merodio Arquitectos strikes contemporaneity with pine wood, concrete, steel, glass, and local stone.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jan 04, 2023

How can a steady inclusion of natural materials ensure a contemplative and modern residential design that fosters quiet living?

A poignant inclusion of natural and authentic materiality becomes the cornerstone for Casa El Pinar, a modern, simple, and balanced home in Mexico’s Valle de Bravo, a short distance away from Mexico City. Resting strong among verdant, high trees and in constant, joyous harmony with its surrounding lush landscape, the residential architecture takes on a staggered layout, responding respectfully and carefully to the sloped terrain it calls home, and saving the felling of many trees in the process. "The built footprint was kept to a minimum, allowing the forest itself to take centre stage,” share the architectural authors, CF Taller de Arquitectura and Merodio Arquitectos.

Casa El Pinar is articulated as simple, cubic volumes of pine wood, concrete, steel, glass, and local stone | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
Casa El Pinar is articulated as simple, cubic volumes of pine wood, concrete, steel, glass, and local stone Image: Rafael Gamo

The 430 sqm elongated dwelling rises from the rugged topography, and employs basic and unadorned materials, including FSC-certified structural pine wood, concrete, steel, glass, and local stone, while leaving finishes exposed, both inside and out. “The luxury of the spatial quality of each of the rooms lies in the subtlety of the design and the constant view of the forest," the Mexican architects relay.

Inside Casa El Pinar in Valle de Bravo, Mexico | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
Inside Casa El Pinar in Valle de Bravo, Mexico Image: Rafael Gamo

Simplicity adorns the main volume comprising the service areas and features a concrete basement clad in stone, while the floor above showcases the textured concrete wall that beautifies the north façade. Almost hiding in plain sight against the basement wall is a stone staircase design leading to the main door of the residential design.

The residential architecture features a concrete basement clad in stone with a textured concrete level resting above | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
The residential architecture features a concrete basement clad in stone with a textured concrete level resting above Image: Rafael Gamo

To protect against harsh weather, this side of the Casa El Pinar is kept closed off, while its opposite side includes floor-to-ceiling windows that let in warm and bright natural light. “The constant visual connection with the forest, as well as the quiet it provides, contributes to the tranquil atmosphere of the space," say César Flores and Mikel Merodio, the lead architects for the project.

The dwelling enjoys a perpetual visual connection with the lush forest surroundings | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
The dwelling enjoys a perpetual visual connection with the lush forest surroundings Image: Rafael Gamo

The concrete floors of the Mexican architecture juxtapose the structural laminated pine beams and plywood-covered ceilings, adding subtle texture and warmth to the home. Smaller details are kept to neutral colours, including black joints and window frames, as well as black and grey furnishings throughout the no-nonsense interior design. “The project is simple and honest in essence. Instead of existing separately, the structure and the finishes mimic each other; they are one and the same,” they continue.

According to the architects, Casa El Pinar is “simple and honest in essence” | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
According to the architects, Casa El Pinar is “simple and honest in essence” Image: Rafael Gamo

A glass-enclosed central courtyard adds subtle drama to the stone architecture, hosting a sweetgum tree, and physically separating the main public areas while maintaining a visual connection, creating a sense of “flowing spaciousness.”

A glass-enclosed central courtyard hosts a sweetgum tree and separates the main public areas of the home | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
A glass-enclosed central courtyard hosts a sweetgum tree and separates the main public areas of the home Image: Rafael Gamo

The hallways and rooms inside the contemporary architecture welcome daylight through clerestory windows. The sloped roof responds to the heavy rains, predominant to the area, and captures sunlight. A long hallway connects the living room with the home’s private spaces, which consists of three cosy bedrooms, each with an attached bathroom and closet space.

The various staircases connecting Casa El Pinar | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
The various staircases connecting Casa El Pinar Image: Rafael Gamo

A concrete bungalow resides at the other end of the volume, linked to the main house through a covered terrace, replete with a snug jacuzzi. The bungalow also features a TV room as well as a guest bedroom, and akin to the main house opens to the north and connects the interior with the exterior.

  • The light-filled living room | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The light-filled living room Image: Rafael Gamo
  • One of the bedrooms of the Mexican residence (L); an attached bathroom and closet space (R) | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    One of the bedrooms of the Mexican residence (L); an attached bathroom and closet space (R) Image: Rafael Gamo

The architects and design team share their thoughts on their employed materiality and features for the wooden architecture that cater to sustainability standards —"FSC-certified, laminated pine was used for the structure. As a construction system, wood alone boasts a negative balance of carbon emissions, in addition to being a renewable material. Wood does not emit CO2 or any other waste that is toxic to humans; all it requires is simple maintenance with oil every two years to ensure good performance and durability. An SPL rainwater harvesting system and a TIM wastewater recycling treatment plant were installed to irrigate the green areas.”

  • A concrete bungalow resides at the other end of the volume and is accompanied by a cosy jacuzzi | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    A concrete bungalow resides at the other end of the volume and is accompanied by a cosy jacuzzi Image: Rafael Gamo
  • The bungalow features a TV room as well as a guest bedroom | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The bungalow features a TV room as well as a guest bedroom Image: Rafael Gamo

"We were particularly keen on using certified mass timber for this structure, as innovation on engineered laminated wood for structural applications is breaking new ground across the world. In Mexico, the reality is a bit different, most forests are not being sustainably harvested even when local communities are eager to incorporate responsible and sustainable practices, thousands of hectares are still lost to agriculture or urban development every year. Sustainable forest management has the potential to encourage the reforestation of areas previously deforested for agriculture and livestock, as is already the case in many regions of the country, with different plant fibres, such as conifers, tropical timber in the southeast and bamboos in the southeast," they elaborate.

Certified mass timber was used to build the Casa El Pinar | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
Certified mass timber was used to build the Casa El Pinar Image: Rafael Gamo

According to CF Taller de Arquitectura + Merodio Arquitectos, wood as a sustainable building material is the key to building future skyscrapers and multi-level buildings, large clearings, and public buildings. The only limitation remains for basements and underground levels. For the rest, wood is the only construction system with a negative balance of carbon emissions, besides being a renewable material.

  • The modern and simple Casa El Pinar invites reflection and fosters contemplative, quiet living | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The modern and simple Casa El Pinar invites reflection and fosters contemplative, quiet living Image: Rafael Gamo
  • The private areas of the home boast of direct views to the forest | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The private areas of the home boast of direct views to the forest Image: Rafael Gamo

The mighty trunks of the pine trees frame resplendent views to the forest from any point of the house, relishing in the beauty of this project that reigns in the simplicity of using natural materials and establishing a clear, harmonious relationship with nature. “With its clean lines and sparse materials, this house is an understated retreat that invites reflection and contemplation," the architects concluded.

Ground floor plan (top) and sections (bottom) | Casa El Pinar by CF Taller de Arquitectura & Merodio Arquitectos | STIRworld
Ground floor plan (top) and sections (bottom) Image: Courtesy of CF Taller de Arquitectura and Merodio Arquitectos

Project Details

Name: Casa El Pinar
Location: Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico
Area: 430 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: CF Taller de Arquitectura + Merodio Arquitectos
Design team: César Flores and Mikel Merodio (lead architects); Jessica Cano, Ana Voeguelin, Nadia Martinez, Bruno Huerta, David Gordillo
Lightning: ILWT
Water Collection System: SPL Sistemas Pluviales
Water Treatment System: TIM Tecnologías Integrales Medioambientales

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