Posted on: 03/05/2015 Posted by: Amy Frearson Comments: 0

Monterrey studio Greenfield used walls of rammed earth and rugged stone to frame the rooms of this villa for the staff of an animal breeding facility in Mexico’s Maderas del Carmen natural park (+ slideshow).

Named The Cave, the building is located in Los Pilares, a 5,000-hectare conservation facility in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains, where researchers are expanding herds of native animals such as the bighorn sheep.

Related story: Desert Courtyard House by Wendell Burnette features rammed earth walls

The villa is used by the researchers as a space for relaxing and socialising, so there are no bedrooms. The main spaces are large living and dining areas with generous views out over the scenic mountain landscape.

Greenfield founder Kenji López Rivera based his design around a desire to use natural and recycled materials that could be sourced locally and would feel appropriate for the rural setting.

“Like in vernacular architecture, the building responds directly to the site where it is placed, with basic and even primitive volumes that rise with materials from the region, gaining colour and texture right from the landscape,” he explained.

Huge stones were used to create chunky walls around the southern and eastern sides of the building’s L-shaped plan. Elsewhere, rammed earth – a construction material created by compressing damp soil – forms walls of wavy layers that sit over a stone base.

The building’s structural framework was built using wood and concrete, while corrugated metal and hardwood sourced from abandoned nearby railway tracks were also utilised.

“Because of the nature and isolation of the place, it was important to use and reuse the resources of the area,” said López Rivera. “The constructive system combines river rocks, pine wood, rammed earth and concrete, which are elements rich in textures that mimic the multicoloured landscape that can be perceived during sunset.”

“The feeling while visiting the project resembles that of a cave, partially buried into the ground, providing a shelter from the exterior and allowing the user enjoy it from the warming interior,” he added.

The villa centres around a communal living area that is raised up higher than most of the other rooms. Concrete steps lead down from here to a large dining room with enough space for a group to dine together.

Both of these spaces feature walls of glazing that open out to terraces, giving occupants plenty of opportunities to look out towards the mountains and observe the local wildlife.

A small kitchen and barbecue area sit alongside one another at the south-west corner of the building. The bathroom occupies a triangular space on the opposite side of the corridor, while a winding passageway leads down to an underground wine cellar.
Photography is by Adrián Llaguno.

Project credits: 
Architecture: Greenfield – Kenji López Rivera
Collaborators: Melisa Avila, Esmeralda Salinas, Antonio Flores, Juan Tellez, Julia Briones, Dolores Maximino, Manuel Cruz
Floor plan – click for larger image
Section one – click for larger image
Section two – click for larger image
Section three – click for larger image
Section four – click for larger image
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