HW-Studio steps Casa Ja down a slope in central Mexico
JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

HW-Studio steps Casa Ja down a slope in central Mexico

Architecture practice HW-Studio took cues from the steps and plazas found in traditional Spanish architecture to design this residence in central Mexico.

Located in Morelia, a historic town in the province of Michoacan, the houses staggers down its sloped site to create a "horizontal line that highlights the sky and the mountains in the background".  HW-Studio dubbed it "The House that Hides Behind the Hill," for its unique relationship to the landscape upon which it is located.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

The house's shorter name Casa Ja is a contraction of "Janitzio", an island in the middle of Lake Pátzcuaro, near Morelia. The area is known for its pre-hispanic and colonial architecture, and informed HW-Studio.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

"We designed this house with the practical solutions of a pre-hispanic town like Janitzio," the architects told Dezeen. "The house was designed in the most vernacular way, based on proven solutions of traditional architecture, the terraces and stairs that we saw in Janitzio gave us the solution to build the house in a sloping ground," they added.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

The property slopes down from the street, giving the illusion from the public way that the 500 square-metre home is much smaller than it actually is. Building the home into the hillside also allowed HW-Studio to create an interior layout with different floor levels, without building a tall structure.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

"The house is divided into three blocks placed on different levels connected by wide covered and uncovered stairs that make up a continuous and fluid space," said HW Studio in a project description.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

A white concrete frame forms the front facade, and is offset by black geometric volumes. These direct visitors inside through a broad pivoting door.

The architects wanted to avoid the flashy aesthetic of surrounding homes, opting instead for a more restrained approach instead.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

The facade is covered with Recinto Negro – a volcanic stone that is commonly used in local construction.

"We wanted the house to be so intimate and silent that only suggested its presence, avoiding any presumption, exaggerated exhibition or the typical ostentation of the place where it is located," studio added.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

The home is roughly shaped like the letter H - the architects located a courtyard in the centre, between the home's two parallel wings.

"The gardens, patios and squares organise the rest of the programme, [providing] a certain introspective, domesticated and silent nature," said the studio.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

The residence, which contains three bedrooms, features a minimal aesthetic. This comprises black marble floors throughout, which contrast the plain white walls that were used for the interiors and exteriors.

"Its black stone interiors pretend to emphasize the cover and highlight that horizontal line on which the sun, the sky and the mountains would rest," it added.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

Photographs of the project show certain quirky furniture accents, such as an antique gilded mirror in the living and room.

A few wooden accents break up the home's monotone palette. Staircases, doors, and cabinets bring some warmth to the otherwise neutral home.

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio

HW-Studio, which completed Casa Ja in 2015, has also recently completed a market for the town of Morelia, nestling crisp white volumes for vendors in between historic stone structures.

Mexico has been producing several notable architecture projects recently. Dezeen rounded up 1o examples throughout the country.

Photography is by César Belio.

More images

JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio
Floor plan
JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio
JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio
JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio
JA House in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico by HW Studio