Casa Acantilado is a cliffside villa offering cool contemplation

Casa Acantilado by Zozaya Arquitectos is perched enticingly on a Zihuatanejo cliffside in Mexico

Exterior of casa acantilado, Mexican villa
(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Perched on a verdant hillside overlooking the Zihuatanejo bay in the Mexican West Coast, Casa Acantilado (acantilado means ‘cliff’ in Spanish) is a striking new local landmark – guiding fishermen at night like an unofficial lighthouse, peeking out from the region's thick flora, rich with native species, birds and animals. The house is the brainchild of Zihuatanejo-based architecture studio Zozaya Arquitectos, which, led by founder Enrique Zozaya, is an expert in creating idyllic private homes that blend the local and the global. 

In the case of Casa Acantilado, situated on a steeply angled plot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the architecture team developed its design ‘as an element that emerges from the rocks, focused on the making of a place, mimicking the context thanks to the local materials and forms used, putting into practice the craft techniques and the vernacular architecture of the site'. And, true enough, the house is a harmonious blend of modernist-inspired, contemporary forms and materials, and vernacular architecture and building techniques that draw on Mexico’s heritage.

View of swimming pool at casa acantilado, Mexican villa

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

The home's main volume, containing the getaway's expansive social spaces, sits slightly angled against its plot and the cliff's incline, so as to make the most of the best vistas. Here, a large palapa (an open-air structure with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves), greets visitors, offering a cool, open-air room for relaxing and entertaining. Cleverly using traditional methods for cross ventilation, lots of alfresco areas and cool materials, such as stone, wood and palm leaves, as well as using local labour for the construction, the architects hope to help mitigate the home's energy consumption.

Casa Acantilado's other volume hosts bedrooms, as well as its signature outdoor space – an eye-catching infinity pool that makes bathers feel like they are plunging into the Pacific waters. Meanwhile, a second pool, accessed via a monumental sequence of concrete steps underneath the house, and wrapped in board-formed concrete walls, offers a contrasting experience of swimming in a cave, while looking out to the blue waters and green treetops of this idyllic retreat; a perfect space for cooling and contemplation.

Terrace at casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Bedroom at casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Nighttime in casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Living space in casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Textures of concrete in casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Concrete steps in casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Views from casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Swimming pool and views at casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

Bedroom with tilted ceiling at casa acantilado

(Image credit: Rafael Gamo)

INFORMATION

zozayaarquitectos.com (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).

With contributions from