How does architectural space influence artistic production—and vice-versa? This is the question to be examined by means of a series of visits to the homes and studios of leading Mexican artists. The investigation will address the connections between a spatial and sensorial context—visual, auditory, material—and the work that is conceived or created within it. The discussion will successively advance more deeply, over several months, into the creative atmosphere in which a number of a key artists produce their work. Each event literally evolves in situ, with a specific character arising from the personality of the space visited, and of the person who inhabits it.
In this way, this series establishes a conceptual link between the traditional journeys made by modern architects to visit emblematic works from antiquity, and the contemporary practice of studio visits.
Last thursday 9th of June the fifth event of the Studio Interludes cycle took place in the house of Danh Vō, located in the Roma Norte neighborhood and designed by AREA, a young mexican architecture office founded in 2013 by Héctor Módica, Carlos Ledezma and Lourdes del Río.
Danh Vō House
The office practice focuses on the craftsmanship, understanding the construction techniques and the search of spatial clarity. The design process feeds the dialogue between the project workshop and pragmatism of workers in the construction processes, which lead to a recurring improvement of practical solutions and construction details.
The office focuses on the search openness and continuity in the spaces by using honest materials and structures that allow coexistence between interior and exterior spaces, the controlled and natural environment, by using the understanding of the natural context and climate of the projects.
Located in a traditional neighborhood of Mexico City, the project Flora House is an intervention of a house in the early 20th century, with 3 levels on land 8 x 16 meters with the presence of an Ahuehuete, a typical Mexican tree on the facade of the street. This was one of the elements taken into account to preserve the atmosphere of the original house in the new proposal.
The approach was reached with Danh Vo was to respect the original façade and structure, the essence of the house, cleaning subsequent interventions that saturated most of the light and space of the plot to restore the spirit of the original plan, a house and a patio .
The house is made of a relationship of solids and voids, which organizes the program around existing masonry walls, the essence of the house, and the relationship with a patio that acts as a cube of light that serves as an extension of the built environment. The courtyard is the generator of movement and light in the house that unites each level with indoor and outdoor stairs.
The ground floor is a continuous public space in which can be lived entirely. The second floor consists of a pair of intimate rooms, restoration of the original ones, one that lives to the street tree, which acts as a natural screen of light while the other lives to the balcony patio and garden. Finally the third floor completes the course and consists of the renovation of the original penthouse with a terrace living closely related to the surrounding context because of its openness.
After initially approach was established, that concept that lasted throughout the process, the design method was a recurring dialogue with Danh from discoveries in the demolition and restructuring of the house that gave us the outlook of the permanence of elements and changes in a search of ambients and transitions between them.
Dynamism and variety in the paths happen thanks to the inclusion of stairs and passages that allow the transition between the traditional atmosphere of the house and the intervention. The preservation of the found environments and continuity of the paths are supported by a congruent choice of materials because of their practical use and also its local origin, which emphasize the traditional character of the house. Using recinto, a local volcanic stone chosen because of its versatility as a continuous surface between the interior and exterior that unfolds on the ground floor completely until deformed in the pond to its natural shape and then continuously up the stairs to provide continuity between levels. The ceilings and wood floors are the original construction system of the house and white masonry walls achieve spatial unity, the wood interventions control the relationship with the outside and act as dividers into the spaces with their presence acting as internal walls.
The result is a house for a flexible use in terms of program and flow of the user, which is not determined but rather instinctive depending of the external conditions and activities that makes it living it enjoyable and dynamic.
In a context of reappropriation of a building nestled in the city, the intervention in this space manages to be a pause of calm within a hyperactive urban environment.