Casa Vertientes in Mexico City is a weightless balance of steel beams

Casa Vertientes in Mexico City is a weightless balance of steel beams

On even the most cursory glance, Casa Vertientes – a sprawling family home in Mexico City’s Lomas de Chapultepec neighbourhood – makes two immediate impressions. The first is the unexpected clarity of its elevated plans. And the second is its unusual frame: the entire building practically hangs off large steel crossbeams that, in turn, anchors the retaining walls on either side of the building.

The unusual resolution arose as a response by the architects JJRR/Arquitectura + Area to the client’s brief for a four-storey family home that would allow a large number of members to interact in spaces that blended interior volumes with the sun-soaked exteriors. In turn, the steel cross beams that grip the retaining walls, both minimise load bearing walls, and amplify the porosity of the layout.

The single family house sits in the city’s Lomas de Chapultepec neighbourhood. Photography: Jaime Navarro

Using a metallic grid structure as a starting point, the architects say they began playing with the spaces as if on a chessboard, settling finally on a scheme that involves a sequence of glass walls that pull apart to subliminally draw interior rooms into outdoor terraces. In something of an understatement, they add, ‘You can find many windows in this house. They help achieve transparency and harmony between interior and exterior.’

The orientation of the plot was also a factor in the finished design, the architects careful to pull the profile of the house towards the south to ensure the day-long flow of light into the interiors, while hanging pergolas from the beams at strategic points to create striated shade over the generously proportioned terraces.

The final effect is one of weightlessness, which the architects cannily reinforce in the interior volumes by avoiding concrete surfaces where possible – except in the stairwells – and opting, instead, for glossy marble bathrooms, walls and ceilings constructed mainly from timber, and floors sheathed in light oak. §

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