- Design Team:Hector Lopez Bracho, Inti Playas, Iñigo Cazenave
- Engineering:Rodolfo Pascacio
- Collaborators:Leo Marron, Alejandro Rojo
Text description provided by the architects. Christian Magaldi is a Mexican architect living in Miami with deep roots in his homeland. This modern concrete and wood villa is a delightful and unconventional retreat for a childhood friend and his family in the exclusive gated community of Merida on the Yucatan peninsula. In a unique departure from any home this house has no front door since access to the community is controlled by the concierge at the front gate allowing a carefree freedom of movement characteristic of the clients life style. With intimate connection to this client the architect was able to create a concept both sympathetic to the family concerns and the unique character of the Yucatan climate.
Zoning restrictions helped to frame the plan tight to set backs while opening the home around the curved corner property to benefit from natural light while catching the breeze through wood screen panels running along the exterior façade keeping the rooms shaded and cool.
The home is a version of the center court plan we see historically in most warm climates around the world but strays from tradition by lifting the main floor plane from the terrain allowing air current to circulate from below and through the home. Air conditioning is kept to a minimum at the owner’s request. Architects implemented a zoning system selective on demand cooling per room in extreme heat enabling the family to enjoy natural air currents most days.
The form and materials used in the home are quite simple. Concrete floors and walls, wood screens and stair treads from the Huanacaxtle or Parota tree, black metal stringer and curved metal panel handrail (reminiscent of the artist Richard Sierra) together create a very strong and organized simplicity. The concrete floor surfaces are very light while the walls surfaces inside and out are a darker shade of gray. A regional tradition of mixing tree sap into the concrete called Chukum creates a unique water resistant surface from the occasional heavy rainfall in this tropical forest landscape.
Curved concrete forms contrasting with angular forms create a satisfying counter balance along with the asymmetric space planning around the interior private court. The swimming pool has both a deep submersive end and a shallow playful end for casual wadding to cool off from the strong Mexican sun.
The sense of openness and minimalism achieved in this home seems to result from a cross cultural synthesis of Japanese simplicity, European theoretical analysis and Mexican regionalism paired with a deep understanding of a unique client. In the end demonstrating true creativity.