Perched on a slope within the idyllic Mexican wilderness, the paradise that is Tepoztlán is situated 50 km from Mexico City in the state of Morelos. It is here that Tepoztlán Lounge, a holiday retreat built recently by architects Cadaval & Solà-Morales, finds its home.
Tepoztlán is a small picturesque burg blessed with fantastic weather conditions that vary from temperate to subtropical, and a rich historical legacy that began over 1200 years ago with the birth of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god widely worshipped in ancient Mexico. Built on the foundation of its pre-Hispanic origins, the town boasts of a unique character which brings swarms of visitors to its doorstep. Intellectual thinkers and imaginative dreamers alike come to soak in the exquisite charm and pleasant climate that Tepoztlán has to offer.
The site sits amidst timber and shrubbery, and opens out to breathtaking views of the adjoining valley. The jungle bungalow is built on a predominantly flat patch of land and is the first of a series of cabins to be constructed at the location. Designed by the same studio, an area for common use which includes a large garden, a lounge and a pool neighbours the bungalow.
The form of the building, in essence, is a skewed polygonal glass box encased in a bold concrete shell. The front façade is transparent and interacts with the sloping landscape. The rear façade is opaque, pierced only by three indisputably vital openings. The sides of the framed box are completely shut off from the surroundings, ensuring privacy from succeeding cabins. The planning requirements of the area outline a structure that ‘minimises its visual impact on the landscape’. In adherence to this norm, the exterior of the bungalow is painted a discreet black.
Conceived as a refuge for ephemeral sojourns, the bungalow is designed as a ‘temporary shelter’ for a small family or a couple. As such, it prioritises the living/dining room and master bedroom which occupy the front of the bungalow and survey the steep slope of the terrain below.
“The project aims to reinforce the belvedere feel in each of its main spaces,” says the team. The kitchen, bathroom and guest bedroom are positioned towards the rear. A gash slices the front of the property into two volumes, creating a clear distinction between the living and sleeping areas. At the same time, this unusual shape enables a sliver of nature to seep into the gap.
The floor-to-ceiling glass front of the building is set back slightly from the edge of its enveloping shell. This design gesture allows for an ample terrace area that opens out to panoramas of the gorge without compromising on protecting its residents from the sun. Here, a hammock casually dangles from the roof. The spacious unhindered terrace strengthens the relationship with nature by extending itself, both literally and notionally, towards the edge of the natural platform on which the bungalow stands.
The interior design of the bungalow is dictated by the architecture itself. The building is honest and true, and upholds the integrity of the materials employed for its construction. The pale grey concrete of the structure forms the textural stage on which myriad minimalist furniture pieces become the main characters.
Uniformly spaced circular dents are present on the walls, which is where the studs of the concrete formwork once stood, awaiting the curing and drying of the mixture. Nondescript beige roller blinds line the glazed walls, while muted light fittings are embedded in the ceiling. Stark black metal sections border the sliding glass panels and brazenly contrast the surfaces they are mounted on. An abundance of natural light floods the interiors.
Founded in New York City in 2003, Cadaval & Solà-Morales moved to both Barcelona and Mexico City in 2005. Tepoztlán Lounge with its compact 80 sq m built-up area was commissioned in 2009 and completed in 2016 in collaboration with Manuel Tojal, Tomas Clara, local architect Eugenio Eraña Lagos and structural engineer Ricardo Camacho de la Fuente. “Views, light, nature and quietness are the reasons of the project,” says the team. The studio dedicates its efforts towards creating intelligent design solutions at varying scales, be it large projects or small buildings, objects or city fractions.
The cabin is a concrete pavilion in the woods, a small plinth among the trees at the service of wandering nomads who choose to transit through its shelter. It is the physical manifestation of a moment of pause, a recess from the tumult of urban life, sculpted solely to experience the surreal weather and immerse oneself in the pristine nature of the place.
Text By Ar. Priti Kalra
Photographs Courtesy Diego Berruecos Sandra Pereznieto