Designed by Argentinean practice Colle Croce Arquitectos, the refined MM House is one of the latest additions to the suburb of Vicente Lopez, just off the Río de la Plata coast in Buenos Aires. On a modest site in a decidedly low-density neighbourhood, the house was left with little room for architectural manoeuvre, but the architects' clever interplay between open and private areas created a comfortable family home with lots of breathing space.
Courtyards of various sizes encroach on the ground floor, blurring its volumetric limitations and creating an adjustable open concept. Though the courtyards are framed by wide portals that can be shut to close off adjacent areas, they diffuse vast amounts of natural light through the lower level. The integrated kitchen and living room benefit most - they face the backyard terrace, where a broad overhang juts into the garden, casting long shadows to the swimming pool and protecting from sun and rain.
Beyond the landscaped entrance, a wide wood staircase leads to the first floor, where a play area separates the master bedroom and two children's rooms. White railings line small balconies that look down onto the courtyards.
The architects used local materials to help express a warm, homely atmosphere. 'One of the client's requests was to leave the natural colours of the materials, making the structure of the house visible,' says Rodolfo Croce, principal at Colle Croce. 'The formwork for the structure was made with different woods that left [impressions in] the concrete, making it look similar to the wood.' As time goes by, the wood will age to resemble the concrete, slowly turning grey due to its exposure to the sun.
Still, only the upper levels peek over the tall garden fence at front and the thick border of trees at the back. The open, contemporary spaces remain tucked away from the busy streets, a suitably private family environment.