Dezeen Magazine

Refugio Bajo Las Hojas

Paolo Sarra and Punto Arquitectónico convert Mexican home into a hotel

Architect Paolo Sarra and studio Punto Arquitectónico have transformed a historic residence in southern Mexico into a bed and breakfast filled with regional materials such as chukum and palm.

The Refugio Bajo Las Hojas – or Shelter Under the Leaves – is located in Campeche City, which is deemed a World Heritage Site due to its colonial-era architecture. The city lies along the Gulf of Mexico.

Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
The Refugio Bajo Las Hojas is a Mexican hotel

The 220-square-metre hotel is found in the historic Guadalupe neighbourhood. The project involved transforming a family home into a bed and breakfast for both local and out-of-town visitors.

The project was designed by Mexico City architect Paolo Sarra and the firm Punto Arquitectónico, based in the city of Mérida.

Hotel by Punto Arquitectónico and Paolo Sarra
Neutral chukum, wood and palm define the project

"The design premise was to generate versatile, coexistence spaces and to create an identity for the project through its materiality," the team said.

Occupying a long parcel that is just five metres wide, the hotel is composed of four volumes and interstitial open spaces. The layout was guided by the shape of the lot as well as local regulations that required the original circulation scheme to be preserved.

Reception area by Punto Arquitectónico and Paolo Sarra
A reception area greets visitors

"The order of these volumes follows a traditional sequence of a residence," the architects said.

A reception area is found in the front, street-facing volume. Here, visitors encounter their first look at the project's material palette – chukum, wood and palm.

Pool at Mexican hotel
Guest rooms are housed next to the pool

Chukum, a natural type of stucco, was used as a finish, while wood was used for partitions, shutters and furniture. Palm was used for decor such as lamps, rugs and cushions.

"The chosen material palette is characteristic of the area and has been used throughout history in the region," the studio said.

"Through tonality, warmth and texture, each material fulfils its own function unifying the spaces," it added.

Just behind the first volume is a single-storey building that can be adapted to different uses, including eating, working and dancing. Adjoining this space is an open area with a small swimming pool and a distinctive stone wall.

Staircase at hotel
Storeys are broken up by a smooth staircase

The guest rooms are housed in a two-storey structure next to the pool. Meant to be simple and cosy, the rooms feature woven light fixtures and earthy colours.

The final volume, which contains service functions, is found in the rear of the property.

The Refugio Bajo Las Hojas bedroom
The hotel was designed to be a refuge within the city

"Together, this sequence of volumes seeks to make the user experience very organic and complete as a refuge within the city," the team said.

Other projects by Punto Arquitectónico include a renovated residence in Mérida that has stone walls, a refurbished cistern and an irregularly shaped swimming pool.

The photography is by Fabián Martínez.

Project credits:

Architecture: Paolo Sarra, Punto Arquitectónico
Interior design: Paolo Sarra
Construction: Eduardo Bacardit
Craftsmanship: Taller Ruíz López, Mujeres del Barro Rojo, Corazón Artesano
Renderings: Taller Mx

More images and plans

Ground floor plan
Ground floor plan
First floor plan
First floor plan
Roof floor plan
Roof floor plan
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas
Refugio Bajo Las Hojas