Architects: RIMA Design Group
- Area: 450 m²
- Year: 2020
Manufacturers: AutoDesk, C.R. Laurence, Sika, Sherwin-Williams, Apasco, Axalta, Cafe, Carrier, Clopay, Coyote, Delta, Emtek, Everest Solar System, Fester, GE Lighting, Helvex, Jandy, Kohler, Leviton, Lorentz, +13
- Design Team: Gerry Rivero, Maritere Rivero, Carlos Flores, Guillermo Valles, Napoleón Guerrero.
- Construction Team: Sergio Granillo, Pedro Ricardez, Jorge Montaño
- Country: Mexico
Text description provided by the architects. The project started when our client approached us to design an off-grid home for his property on the East Cape road to famous surf breaks. The location and the views are as good as can get for a remote location that is also accessible to town by a newly paved road, which as of three years ago, used to be the typical Baja desert dirt road. Not only was the distance and the lack of essential infrastructure a challenge, but finding the right materials and sustainable systems to build and operate the house.
Our initial approach was to incorporate rammed earth construction to the most important spaces of the house and utilize a second material which is Concrete to express the other massing elements. The rammed earth walls are thermal insulating walls that also bring in warmth and humidity to the dry desert-scapes of the house. The walls contrast with the polished concrete floors, cement polished walls and T shape poured in place concrete slab over the great room. We wanted to explore the great room as an open palapa, which you commonly find in mainland coastal architecture. The light and cross ventilation come from the clear-story windows above, and the patios are located in every axis of the house, making this a passive design flow. Per the client's request for conditioned comfort, every room had to be equipped with Air-Conditioned space for summer use, but the way we designed the flow of the house allows the fresh coastal breeze and sound of waves to travel through each space. The design also travels from inside to outside, creating a seamless transition from a comfortable interior space to a Mediterranean-Baja landscape. The equipment necessary to operate the single-story four-bedroom off-grid home was 48 solar panels on the central flat roof, inverters, lithium batteries, and a propane generator to assist the solar system during higher consumption or on cloudy days
To educate the guest on off-grid technology, the solar panels were exposed on the edge of the great room slab to be easily seen upon arrival, and the solar battery room was clearly seen through a glass door next to the entry powder. The rest of the equipment was concealed, which consisted of a waste treatment plant, a large underground cistern for potable water that unfortunately has to be trucked in, but in response to this, we added a cistern for treated water to use for landscape irrigation as well as a propane gas tank to heat water, stove, and jacuzzi. Again, since this was our first solar project, nature and economy forced us to create efficiency in design and function. From the beginning to the end, we wanted to create contemporary architecture in Baja California, utilizing horizontal lines, large shaded outdoor-indoor spaces, and local materials to build a simple yet extraordinary house.