Dezeen Magazine

Terraces overlook the landscape

René Pérez Gómez designs concrete retreat in Mexican forest

Mexican architect René Pérez Gómez has completed Casa Amapa, a pared-back concrete house nestled in the Primavera forest near Guadalajara in Mexico.

The home has been designed to be a place for reflection and connection with nature, arranged around a series of existing trees to have as little impact on the woodland as possible.

Casa Amapa was built into the hill side
Top: terraces surround the home. Above: the building was built into a hillside

Built into a hillside, the house steps downwards to create two levels: a lower one housing the living spaces and an open upper level of roof terraces, viewing platforms and a small garden.

Oriented to look down the slope, these terraces are shielded from the forest behind by high concrete walls.

Aerial view of the home
The house was built around existing trees

Access is via a doorway that sits behind a perforated brick screen.

"The platforms of the house are sites of coexistence, reflection and connection,"  said Pérez Gómez.

"Below them, the sanctuary is hidden, with an intimacy that is part of the forest as well."

Casa Amapa is comprised of two levels
It was constructed using concrete

Informed by "stereotomic" architecture – meaning spaces formed by cutting and subtracting rather than adding – the board-marked concrete walls of the home are treated as a found object.

Guadalajara-based Pérez Gómez said the effect is intended to make it look as though the walls "emerged from the Earth".

Open staircases connect these terraces to the living level, with a larger wing to the east housing a living, kitchen and dining area and en-suite main bedroom.

plants were placed across the terraces at Casa Amapa
Open staircases connect the terraces and living spaces

A smaller wing to the west contains two smaller en-suite bedrooms.

Space for parking has been tucked away behind the concrete walls, and a simple driveway incorporating a cluster of existing trees leads out into the forest.

Treating the concrete form as a carved-out, cave-like space, the living spaces are divided internally by brickwork walls.

The corridor leading down to the bedroom wing frames these two materials opposite one another, illuminated by a thin skylight that runs along its entire length.

Concrete covers the walls floors and ceiling at Casa Amapa
The home has a concrete interior

Full-height windows set deep into the concrete forms of the home with thin metal balustrades frame large, uninterrupted views out to the forest.

"Each of the spaces of the house enjoys a frank and different view of the forest, maintaining this connection with the forest at all times," added Pérez Gómez.

A large rectangular window frames trees
Full-height windows look out to the forest

Other concrete houses in Mexico include Em-Estudio's design for a holiday home in Oaxaca, which also steps down a forested hillside, and Zeller & Moye's low-cost modular housing concept, built using concrete frames designed to be easily expandable.

The photography is by César Béjar.

More images and plans

Basement plan of the home
Upper level plan of the home
Section drawing of the home
Axonometric drawing of the home
Aerial view of the home
The house was built around existing trees
It was nestled between trees
Stairs lead around the home
Concrete has a textural quality
railings surround a terrace
Terraces overlook the forest
The terraces has an open design
Skylights allow light to floor into the concrete interior
Large windows were placed in the interior