El Torón Reserve House – Mexico

El Torón Reserve House is located on the coast of Oaxaca, at the southernmost point of the Mexican Pacific coastline. It is a protected 30-hectare area characterised by mixed vegetation and rugged topography, with steep cliffs and hilltops creating hard-to-reach spots and a unique natural beauty.
For the House IUA Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos imagined a lightweight architecture that questions the scale, the physical relationship between the building and its surroundings, and the use of a number of elements such as palm roofs. An architecture where they imagined living only on terraces or on a coastal palisade. An architecture that “touched” the site as little as possible and, where it did, that was as careful and respectful as it could be. The construction employed only local materials; certified tropical wood for the structure, door and window frames, local stone—mostly from the excavation itself—for the foundations and containment walls, and stucco and clay from the local area that requires little maintenance. The structural system combined timber and concrete to create frames with 4.8-meter modules bearing lightweight slabs in each of the volumes. These are covered with the clippings from the stonework, endowing them with a thermal quality that, together with the frame design, minimises the energy required to cool the rooms.
No large machinery was used in the construction process, with all the materials being brought in using an ATV and a trailer, following narrow pre-existing tracks. The perimeter landscape was cordoned off during the works and 80% of the vegetation that was located under the footprint of the buildings was replanted in the immediate surroundings.  
The project program is divided into three principal modules, designed separately and independent from each other. The first contains the common areas on the upper floor, and the master bedroom and a studio on the lower floor. The second houses the guest bedrooms, while the third module is a small two-floor volume with two bedrooms on the lower floor and common areas on the upper floor.
After being laid out on the site, these modules were connected by plazas, walkways, and open paths to enable fluid circulation around the compound. The plan of the whole complex was the result of this process and was the final project drawing completed. Dividing the program this way enabled the studio to position the different volumes on the site more freely, while working with independent volumes meant they could control the scale of the house, leaving the existing vegetation intact and providing each space with the necessary privacy and unique viewpoints. The result is a series of intermittent spaces: interiors, exteriors, and roofed outdoor spaces that merge with the landscape and enable the architecture to disappear in an ambiguous relationship of natural and artificial within a continuous panorama of unaltered spaces.

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