A holiday home in the woods of Mexico

HW Studio Arquitectos designs a house in Morelia, reconciling nature and architecture with few elements.

This article was originally published on Domus 1064, January 2022.

Since the early 20th century, the house in the woods has been a fertile theme for research into the relationship between architecture and landscape. A taxonomy of these buildings could classify them according to their elevation above or below, the ground: the house in the woods as an elevated stilt dwelling, tiptoeing over the intact land; or a ground-level, branched organism that surrounds and embraces existing trees; or a volume partly or entirely underground, perhaps mimicking its setting.

HW Studio’s recent project for a holiday home near Morelia, in a Mexican forest of conifers and oaks, belongs to this latter group. “The hill in front of the glen” is the poetic appellation of this piece of land architecture, which is described by its creators as a bed sheet that has been lightly raised and softly curved.

Facciata della residenza, HW Studio, Morelia, Messico, 2021. Foto Cesar Bejar
Residence’s facade, HW Studio Arquitectos, Morelia, Mexico, 2021. Photo César Béjar

 Few elements suffice to transform metaphor into structure: four parallel concrete walls and a vault of the same material. Turf grows seamlessly over the sloping roof, which forms a sky for the interiors comprising the glass-fronted living area, with its panoramic view of the forest, and the bedrooms facing a more intimate patio.

HW Studio’s design is a cavern that protects its inhabitants not so much from the wilderness of the forest, but from the hyperstimulation and pressures of urban life. Along with exposed concrete, the reduced selection of materials is limited to stone, wood and steel, which are combined in an internet-free analogue space where all the appliances are screened, and even the light fixtures are discreetly concealed.

Finally, instead of a customary two-dimensional threshold, the house’s entrance is elongated into a single-file path proceeding along a fissure in the ground and hemmed in by tall walls. The passageway’s architecture and course are eloquently interrupted by a totem-like tree, creating a moment of spatial emotion that seems to signal the entrance to another suspended and timeless dimension.

HW Studio Arquitectos
Morelia, Mexico
Completion date:

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