When we think of vacation homes, many of us immediately picture a beachfront property that takes advantage of the ocean and all its breathtaking views. But one new vacation home in the Mexican state of Jalisco is located more inland, instead taking advantage of a natural woodland setting and all its towering pine trees. The house, officially called “Casa EC,” is located near the city of Guadalajara and is organized around a central courtyard, in which many of the trees that were originally located on the site still sit. The house is made up of five stepped and terraced volumes, all of which respond to the natural contours of the site and enclose private spaces through their arrangement.

Designed by Mexican firm AM30 Taller de Arquitectura in collaboration with Stephane Arriola, Casa EC is an imposing structure, appearing almost castle-like with its high stone walls and restrained openings for windows and doorways. This external treatment unifies the various volumes of the house, each of which responds directly to the particular needs of the brief. Some of the volumes contain guest rooms, while others provide private living areas for the family to occupy. Still, each volume has access to all the others via the shared courtyard. The design team elaborated on this, saying: “A terraced courtyard functions as a central plaza linking the front and back of the plot, as well as creating a space for interaction between the main house and the guest rooms.”

The main house is divided across multiple levels, all of which can be accessed from a central staircase that circulates externally to connect the living room, kitchen, and dining areas. “The main floor adjusts to the terrain surface and inner patios provide light and ventilation, creating atmospheres with unique characteristics,” say the architects. The bedrooms are afforded extra privacy by their being located on the upper floors of these volumes, while the children’s bedroom is located on a mezzanine level for extra safety and easy monitoring.

The materials of the house respond directly to those that were in the area before its construction. Stone and wood proliferate throughout the property, with the architects taking great pains to blend the home’s internal and external areas. They explain: “Architecture in the area is deeply rooted in tradition, and materials found in the landscape greatly influence the way spaces are built. The EC house embraces these cultural features and adapts them to the needs of a family of city dwellers. Our approach was adapting to the natural elements on site, splitting the programme into different volumes, and placing them around the existing pine trees.”

Speaking about the material choices they made in designing the house, they also added, “Hardwood flooring was used to create a continuous surface that extends the public spaces into outer decks, reinforcing the interaction with the surrounding vegetation.” The volumes’ shapes lend the complex a modern quality, and though the materials and construction could be considered rustic, the clean lines and angular rooftops suggest a contemporary design that marries the natural and the built in one coherent scheme.