Black House / BGP Arquitectura

Architects: BGP arquitectura / Bernardo Gómez-Pimienta con Hugo Sánchez
Location: Valle de Bravo, México
Collaborators: JN Morones Esquivel, Ximena Díaz
Project year: 2005-2006
Construction year: 2007
Site Area: 500 sqm
Construction Area: 300 sqm
Structure: Jaime Fragoso
Mechanical Engineer: Arturo Guerra
Digital Model: Hugo Sánchez
Model: at. 103
Photographs: Rafael Gamo

With a magnificent view as the main feature of this retreat located on the hill of a small village some 150km from city, one-half-house aims to live landscape under a canopy with as few interior elements as possible.

A fireplace, a kitchen bar and a marble platform 20m long laid as a free floor plan for public areas and garage on top of a solid block which houses the rest of the program, namely services, three bedrooms and a family room.

This covered roof garden becomes the most important part of the house. The most crowded area in which the family will spend most of the time is also the most ambiguous place of the house, one-half-house is then one-half terrace, protected from the exterior conditions when needed by means of four meter tall sliding glass panels towards the landscape and a wall as high as the garage doors towards the street always detached from the concrete canopy to turn it into a fence more than a wall.

The exposed concrete canopy emphasizes views and deals with an anachronistic local code on context which calls for typical-construction looking elements and materials such as pitched roofs with Spanish tile simply by flipping it. In this way, views and orientation of the house towards south makes sense blocking sun on summer not on winter.

The solid block is all exposed concrete on the inside and marble on the outside just like the roof in order to reinforce the idea of a solid 3 meter high platform with slots carefully located to glance through the surroundings from the bed, desk or the shower.

The rest of the site remains with its natural slope and local therefore highly adaptive vegetation that frame the view and wraps a family vegetable garden.

Interior materials go out of the house and exterior materials come into the house. One-half-house promotes blurring limits between indoor and outdoor, the Mediterranean house revisited versus the glass hermetic air conditioned house, live the view rather than see it.

Cite: "Black House / BGP Arquitectura" 16 Aug 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • ArchThai

    Magnificent view and location combined with good minimal design!! Must be a great place to retreat.

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  • LargoJax

    YES, great view and a fun house for summer!

  • Maureen

    Thanks for the great info. I love growing my own veggies and appreciate your ideas here.

  • Erna

    Lots of useful information that will help me in my garden. Love it!

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  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    A very beautiful project that reminds me a lot of the John Lautner house for Geronimo Arango in Acapulco in the total dematerialization of the glazing and of Marcel Breuer in the form. The glazing system is particularly interesting and I don’t recall having seen anything that is quite as reductive and unintrusive in its track and mechanism. It would be interesting to know what this is and where it comes from.

    The butterfly roof is used brilliantly here to give a wonderful gestural quality to the space and it is impossible not to be impressed with the persistent quality of mexican craftsmanship and quality. Obviously the board forming of this concrete and the precise alignment of the times are all labors of love that make the difference in a project like this.

    With a little bit more work, and perhaps a little bit more budget, I am willing to bet that the vertical supports could have been eliminated on the lake side. I don’t see why that roof cantilever couldn’t have been nearly self supporting? Likewise I am a little bit fuzzy on the kitchen; while I like the composition of the elements, at the end I think it might have been nicer not to see the fridge, hood, etc. Finally, I don’t quite get the downstairs spaces (at least from the photographs). The family room seems of lesser quality than the rest of the architecture and the fenestration works less well here. The juxtaposition of the square window and the unframed skylight just doesn’t reach the heights of the rest of the architecture.

    In all this is an outstanding house.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

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