Mexican architect Fernanda Canales has completed a single family house in Mexico City. Located in a residential area in the center of the city, the house is an investigation of simultaneous openness and privacy, and seeks to answer a series of questions: How is it possible to accomplish spaciousness while surrounded by massive houses on adjacent sites? How is it possible to achieve spatial flexibility under a program based on divided and isolated spaces? As a system of overlapping boxes, the project allows spatial fluidity by combining and connecting different spaces — boxes — and, in other cases, leaving the boxes as independent and closed elements.
The house is aligned to generate a garden and greater openings on its southern side, taking advantage of daylight. By continuing the linear shape of the plot, the house takes shape as an elongated and elevated body sitting over a transparent volume which opens up onto the ground level's garden. This separates the house from the edges of the site, emphasizing its independency in relation to adjacent houses. Another rectangular volume is placed on the second level and continues the play of overlapped boxes, opening up to terraces on both of its sides. On the shortest sides of the site, the front and the back of the house are solid faces, while the house opens to both of its longitudinal sides.
To create wide-open spaces and take advantage of the orientations, the ground floor is designed as the most public space, made up by a rectangular volume, with gardens at both of its sides, allowing a flexible space which can be opened entirely to the exterior. A smaller box, which houses the access, a small living room, the kitchen and a roofed terrace, intersects the transparent volume, holding the rest of the house which appears to float above. The volume that contains the living room and the main entrance is a compact box that holds a green terrace on top. This green terrace, along with a series of balconies for each bedroom, is set apart from the neighbours.
By alternating the balconies of the bedrooms with the concrete boxes, the play between solid and void is accentuated. External solidity is interrupted at the interior with a small patio in the area near the main access that connects with the living room and garden. The overlapping of solids and voids make the house appear to have larger spaces, while also allowing the landscape to blend into its interior as well as extending the house outwards.
Fernanda Canales: Maruma House
Architectural Design: Fernanda Canales
Project Team: Ángela Vizcarra and Alberto García
Contractor: Alpha Hadrin
Structural Engineering: Gersón Huerta
Landscape: Juan Manuell Guerra and Fritz Sigg
Location: Mexico City
Surface area: 500 square metres