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House for Two Architects

Long ago an unpretentious hacienda graced the center of a beautiful Mexican village of cobbled stone streets and colorful, bougainvillea draped walls echoing with the sounds of church bells. Over the centuries the land was divided and pieces were sold. Eventually, all that was left was the back door and a few storage sheds on a tiny piece of property. This is what we started with - a beautiful old door that led to remnants of buildings on a piece of land 37 feet by 52 feet, five blocks from the center of a town, so historically significant as to have been declared a national treasure.

This is a retreat, a refuge, a place for internal focus and personal growth. It is a home and studios and a special place to share with friends and family. To accomplish so much in so little space required careful planning. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two studios, office, living, dining, kitchen, entry and stairway, as well as an array of outdoor spaces including the central courtyard for living and dining, balconies and roof terraces - all give the impression of a complex and complete little village. The journeys between the spaces and the vistas to and through them give form and a sense of dimension that belie the truth. At the lower level all of the main living spaces open onto and flow through the central courtyard. Guest quarters and the architecture studio find their place on the second floor, separate by plan - embracing, yet apart from the protected world below.

Out of respect for the history of the site, everything existing on the property was used in one form or another. The entry door was preserved intact; the existing adobe wall of the street was reinforced with concrete to carry the new roof and second floor and expresses its thickness in the art ledge inside the living room; the footprint of the original outhouse is incorporated into the new master bath; the storage shed received new foundations, reinforcement at the top of its adobe and stone walls and became one of the studios; existing stone paving was recut and reused; the brick floors in the living and studio are as they were; all of the plants that lived there, live there still, but for a peach tree that lives on in the garden of one of the workers. Some of the materials are old (the roof tiles) and some of the details are very traditional (the brick railing) but all of it comes together in a new way, linked with ribbons of steel and bubbles of glass in the concrete and stone that tells, in the language of the Maya, the lifeline of the owners.
Country: Mexico
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