Casa Guazuma by Alberto Zavala Arquitectos

This inspiring concrete residence located in Tabasco, Mexico, was designed in 2016 by Alberto Zavala Arquitectos.

Description by Alberto Zavala Arquitectos

Weather conditions in the area, the topography and the existing vegetation, all acted as key elements in the creation of this eco-friendly project.

The land is located in a tropical area of lush vegetation on the outskirts of the city forming a descending grade from the upper street level to the rear garden which is adjacent to a golf course.

On the plot, there is a single tree (Guazuma ulmifolia, or more commonly known as West Indian elm or bay cedar) native to tropical America with highly visible dimensions and characteristics.

The basic shape that makes up the design consists of a series of staggered prisms in line with the natural topography of the terrain and also situating the tree as a focal point or heart of the project.

The tropical architecture becomes apparent upon bringing together the prismatic interiors with areas that are partly outside and open such as terraces, pergola-type areas, gardens, fountains, pool, and overhang open/winding staircases.

The rooms of the house converge and a tiered passageway emerges, momentarily eliminating the perception of the borders existing between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The natural elements as well as those of the area are optimally used in greatly opening up the green skyline views and closing the areas which have the most sun exposure, such as those areas to the south and those to the west; likewise, the concrete eaves and pergola-type areas are a resource used for protection from direct sunlight and for creating interesting light and shadow environments.

Bioclimatic strategies such as cross ventilation were implemented in all areas, using a mixed system of louvered windows and double pane sliding glass windows (Duovent system) with treatments to reduce solar radiation.

Solar panels were placed on the roof to give rise to renewable and clean energy. As far as the construction method used throughout the house, air-entrained concrete blocks were used in all the walls and prefabricated slabs were also used, resulting in high thermal insulation and acoustic values over time leading to the potential for saving energy. The lighting throughout the house is 90% LED, with built-in energy saving sensors and comprehensive home automation system.

The palette of materials used is designed to integrate naturally and warmly into the surrounding green environment, this is accomplished by introducing tropical wood, the use of travertine for exterior flooring, landscape design using endemic vegetation, the use of regional river rock in some of the outdoor walls, as well as the inclusion of indoor fountains to cool down and provide a sense of peace and serenity.

Photography courtesy of Alberto Zavala Arquitectos

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- by Matt Watts