by Jincy IypeJul 01, 2022
This four-apartment home pays tribute to the beauty of Mexico's Tulum city, its dense jungles and exquisite beaches. The project titled Cuatro Ceilos is designed as an introverted piece of architecture by Mexican practice VOID Studio. Located in a dense residential neighbourhood south of Tulum – a city popular for its spectacular coastline and Maya ruins – the project reverberates the essence of its Mexican context.
On the 476 sqm plot, Mexican architects Fernanda Rodriguez and Joel Martinez conceived four apartment units, each boasting a unique layout and style, yet all similar in the way they connect with the outside world. Comprising two to three bedrooms, the spatial design within each apartment is such that one would need to cross an exterior pocket in order to access a room from the other. Explaining the idea behind this, Rodriguez says, “We wanted each apartment to feel different, we wanted people to identify with the place, to make the apartment of their own as they explored it. But it was also important to make sure they know they were in Tulum, that they lived in the jungle, the heat, the ambient humidity and, of course, the skies.”
While it was key for VOID Studio to tie the spaces to nature, what it also focused on was creating similar connections between the people living inside the homes. Thus, within the structure of the three storied housing, the studio populated 'crossing passageways, bridges, and the matched angles' to create an interpersonal synergy. "The apartments are intertwined and let the presence of the others be perceived," comments the design team.
The architecture of Cuatro Ceilos features a matrix of solids and voids, quaint alleys, and rhythmic staircases. In tune with the introvert nature of the design, the façade of the property is kept discreet, and it doesn’t offer a peek into the activities inside. Even transition spaces within the property evoke a certain detachment with the adjoining street while only capturing controlled views of the enclosed exteriors. Treading the stairs surrounded by walled volumes of the apartments too create a sense of heightened intimacy. As per VOID Studio, it devised “a development that would open inwards, that would make view of its own space, opening to its forms, its textures, colours, lights, shadows, and vegetation.”
Adding to the curation of views and experimentation with the natural conditions of the site and beyond, the material palette has been kept local. This includes chukum stucco on the floors, walls and pools (chukum is a limestone-based stucco mixed with resin from local chukum trees), in addition to materials like Maculí Wood and jiles fences. VOID Studio continues, “This selection, apart from involving the use of local and traditional techniques, has the merit of giving the buildings good resistance for the site conditions: jungle, saltpetre, lots of sun and humidity.”
Furthermore, the material curation enables a striking interaction between surfaces and sunlight as light changes its course through the day. Colours, textures, including the entire character of the place remain constantly in evolution. And that, essentially, is the beauty of one of the many things about this piece of work.