Page D2.2 . 12 July 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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  • A Modern House Steeped in Mexican Tradition
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    A Modern House Steeped in Mexican Tradition


    The construction is reinforced concrete post and beam infilled with locally handmade bricks, plastered over with the same texture inside and out. Grids of steel windows span floor to ceiling, opening each room to light and linking inside to outside in an invisible embrace. Colors of mango, cobalt blue, and a soft gray-green are produced by lime washes toned with natural minerals.

    The floors are locally quarried slate, carried from the mountains on donkey back and hand-cut to fit tightly together in random patterns. Troweled-in-place concrete in deep burgundy accents key stairs and wraps the columns and counters, which are inlaid here and there with glass beads.

    Handmade, rusted, perforated-steel sconces march in rhythm with skylights, railings, and open windows on the covered living terrace. The 20-foot-high blue wall of the patio is sprinkled with lights of handmade frosted-glass stars which seem to pull heaven right down to earth on starry nights.

    Hand-selected river rocks in deep red and ochre arc and twist on the courtyard floor, set against a charcoal gray background. The stone is central to life in the daily role it plays: grinding corn, wheat, and chilies into the flavors of Mexico. Whimsical steel railings play against the strong walls and carefully placed skylights allow natural light to pour in at unexpected places.

    The 3-inch-thick oak entry door weighs hundreds of pounds. Therefore it has top and bottom pivot hinges, wood cylinders wrapped in steel and buried in the header and floor, just as the huge doors of the churches have been hinged for centuries.

    Cathi and Steven House are principals of the architecture firm House + House in San Francisco, California.

    Project Architect: Cathi House

    Contractor: Maestro Guadelupe Gonzales



    ArchWeek Photo

    The master bedroom finds its form in a deep blue wall against which an arc of burnished columns stand, opening the room completely to the garden.
    Photo: Steven House

    ArchWeek Photo

    A row of square columns separate the dining room from the courtyard, allowing shafts of light to spill inside.
    Photo: Steven House

    ArchWeek Photo

    Hand-selected river rocks in deep red and ochre arc and twist in a pattern on the courtyard floor.
    Photo: Steven House

    ArchWeek Photo

    A 200-year-old carpenter's table is framed in new wood to become the dining table, surrounded by woven leather-seated chairs from America's old west.
    Photo: Steven House

    ArchWeek Photo

    A collage of design images rendered in ArchiCAD.
    Image: House + House

    ArchWeek Photo

    Second floor plan: bedrooms (B) and terraces (T).
    Image: House + House

    ArchWeek Photo

    First floor plan: entry (E), livingroom (L), dining room (D), kitchen (K), and master bedroom (MB).
    Image: House + House


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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