When your goal is to blend a home into a landscape, using natural materials just seems like an obvious choice. But for Casa Cañadas by RE+D Arquitectos, artistry was even more important. Designed for a forested hillside in Zapopan, Mexico, the home takes materials and shapes more commonly associated with industrial settings and transmutes them into a series of reflective crystalline shards that almost disappear into the sky.
The clients wanted to preserve the aspects of the site that felt special, like its rocky terrain, tall trees, and breathtaking views. So the architects created an unusual floor plan that avoids removing any existing trees, arranging triangular volumes to fit in between and around them. These volumes are offset from each other, gently flowing in a stack from the elevated street level down the slope of the hillside. Most importantly, the layout leaves a central private garden around which the living spaces are arranged, allowing sunlight to reach every room.
The structural base of the home consists of concrete textured to resemble the natural boulders and a steel framework that seems to shift from white to silver depending on the light. In between the polished concrete floors and the elongated triangular shapes of the roof panels are floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass, frosted in some areas for privacy and transparent in others. The glass reflects the silhouettes of the surrounding trees and the color of the sky.
The central patio functions as “the heart of the project,” the architects say, planted with lush greenery that’s echoed inside and on a multitude of outdoor terraces. The garage also features glass walls, turning the car into a display piece with a prominent presence directly above the level of the swimming pool. Black cabinetry and mostly monochromatic furnishings help visually anchor the home to the cliffside and keep the focus on the nature outside.
Though this is clearly a luxury residence, it’s not hard to imagine using concrete and steel as relatively affordable materials in a lower-budget project, finding ways to arrange them as artfully as RE+D has done here. The firm’s founder and lead architect, Susana López González, is a former professor of architecture, industrial design, and fabric design with a master’s degree in sustainability design, and it’s interesting to see how those influences come together in her work. Like Casa Cañadas, many of RE+D’s residential projects use the dynamic qualities of diagonal lines, contrasting geometric shapes, and textural materials for spaces that feel uniquely tailored to their locations.
“With a contemporary language and with the use of exposed materials, the social area is developed with the concept of the open plan; in this way the user has the freedom to handle the furniture in different ways and combinations, giving ownership to the space,” the architects explain, adding that “with the help of a curtain wall, the social area is unified with the terrace to generate communion between the spaces and moments of coexistence, which respond to the need to generate more flexible and comfortable spaces.”