Casa Lorena is a pastel-toned urban haven filled with nature and light in Mexico
by Jerry ElengicalJan 17, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Jincy IypePublished on : Jan 23, 2023
When architecture falls in love with nature, does it inadvertently forge new identities? When does a building ascend to a being, sans purpose or materiality, by melting into the embrace of nature and seeking a higher purpose through a holistic, forgiving construction led by sustainability?
The Valle San Nicolás - Clubhouse conceived by Sordo Madaleno carves routes into the enquiry vis-à-vis its curated geometric design, a low circular form resting in nature that prioritises 360-degree frames and uninhibited vistas of its natural surroundings. Valle San Nicolás is a development lying on the outskirts of Valle de Bravo, a municipality located on Lake Avándaro, west of Mexico City in the State of Mexico, offering itself as a privileged site for the new 370-hectare residential development. Here, “the urban layout and every architectural element are designed in harmony with nature and with the aim of protecting the existing landscape,” the Mexican architects explain.
Spaces of relaxation and well-being, including the Clubhouse and the 800-meter waterski lake, are peppered generously throughout the contextual design’s 1,800 sqm floorplan, providing its residents with an enhanced connection with, and enjoyment of the natural landscape that ensconces it with intention. Brimming with serenity and awe, the Valle San Nicolás - Clubhouse as well as the shimmering lake are set at the lowest point of the masterplan, taking advantage of the rainwater runoff.
Cross-laminated and sustainably sourced timber were employed to realise this Mexican architecture, as an investigation and celebration of the natural site it calls home. The entirety of the built structure takes in its powerful site, of a lake surrounded by forested mountains blanketed by vast stretching skies, like something out of a carefully curated film set lit by natural sunrises. The Clubhouse claims to be a built manifesto of careful, slow design, where nature and sustainable architecture integrate to create a dazzling-built chorus supported by repeated notes of warm wooden beams and sun-kissed vantage points forming hymns to the earth.
Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas, president of Sordo Madaleno, highlights the crux of the wooden architecture by saying, “The natural conditions of Valle San Nicolás were explored to better understand how the two most prominent natural elements—the mountain and the lake—could converge and relate to each other through a work of architecture. This point of encounter gave rise to the Clubhouse as the main place for socialising.”
Following the guiding idea of a subtle and friendly approach between architecture and nature, the Clubhouse was conceptualised in reference to a boat anchored in the lake, as if it were floating on the water. – Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos
According to Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, the contextual architecture's form is articulated and resolved by a circular floor plan fragmented around its radius to distribute and modulate the varied spaces and amenities it hosts.
This lyrical strategy is made apparent in the dramatic interplay of solids and voids brought forth by the internal bodies of water as they coalesce with the lake, while the wooden walls of the timber architecture rise perceptibly from the bottom. The circular volume with its luxurious open layout permits the sun to flood and filter through the modern and rooted hospitality architecture, reflecting its seemingly symmetric being in the sparkling water body.
Concentric rings (one inner and one outer) become open circulatory passageways that vacillate around the geometric form, boasting precious, vibrant views of the natural landscape and the man-made pond inside. In the middle, a sunken central corridor of brick helps shorten the journey, by leading directly to the main deck, attached with a bar and TV room, before culminating into the picturesque floating pool.
This central route also helps divide the spatial zoning, with the east side containing the dining area, barbecue space, kitchen and related services, and the west housing the gym, spa cabins with an outdoor jacuzzi, apart from a steam room, sauna and attached changing rooms. An elongated pier extends out into the water, offering a sunbathing area and a swimming space decorated with outdoor seating, and uninterrupted sights of the panoramic topography.
Cross-laminated timber (CLT) brings about the construction system enunciating the Valle San Nicolás – Clubhouse, with exposed beams and columns designed in short spans. These are placed in a radial distribution that creates the distinctive, and cinematic circular volume of the hospitality design, with stone walls housed in wooden frames anchoring it to the lake. Employing natural materials, the earthy and handsome interior design matches the structural elements of the timber construction’s exterior.
A deck dressed in wood by Kebony (a Norwegian wood producer), surfaces of volcanic stone, and the American red oak roof comprise the finishes deployed to make the Clubhouse harmonise with and reflect its powerful, natural surroundings. Developed in Norway, Kebony employs special care and technology where softwoods are heated with furfuryl alcohol (an agricultural by-product), modifying the wood to become cost-effective tropical hardwoods, resulting in contributing significantly less to the carbon footprint.
Led by a sustainable conscience and focus on well-being, the Valle San Nicolás – Clubhouse found its genesis and final form in the intimate proximity and embrace of nature. The contemporary architecture leads by example among the plethora of site-specific well-being estates nestled in natural landscapes, preaching, and emphasising sustainable construction and connecting with nature, without comprising on its desired, handsome, and unique aesthetic.
Name: Valle San Nicolás - Clubhouse
Location: Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico
Area: 1,800 sqm
Year of completion:
Architect: Sordo Madaleno (Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas - President)
Design team: Javier Sordo Madaleno de Haro, Fernando Sordo Madaleno de Haro (Architectural Directors); Boris Pena (Project Lead); Luis Pucheta, Santiago Letona, Alba Díaz (Design Manager); Andrés Burguete, Ignacio Cabrera, José Mendoza, Luis Torres, Marco Pérez, Federico Serna (Design Team); Marcos Hernández (Engineering Coordination); José Eduardo Hernández (Engineering Team); Rosalba Rojas, Daniela Cruz, Fernanda Ventura (Media & Marketing); Fernanda Patiño (Interior Design Director); Delfina Espina, Regina Jarque (Interior Design Team)
Structural Engineering: Metal y Madera, Alba Estructural
Electric Engineering, Systems & Special Engineering, Hydrosanitary Engineering: Imati
Lighting Consultant: Artec3
Audio & Video Consultant: Solutions Audio&Video
Landscape Consultant: Jerónimo Gabayet, Concepto Q, Entorno Taller de Paisaje
Construction: TUCA, Metal y Madera
Construction Coordination: Terraforma, GJA
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