Chilean studio Elemental has created a round concrete house called Casa del Tec outside of Monterrey, Mexico that is the prize of a raffle that funds higher education at the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Completed in 2022 in San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, the three-storey textured reinforced concrete shell serves as a shell for the 600 square-metre home.
“We have always been struck by the double condition of castles,” Elemental said.
“They are fortresses turned inwards, protecting something inside that we cannot see and simultaneously they are a strong, monumental, abstract presence in the world.”
The studio described the project as introverted by not shy.
“[It’s] a place that almost silently takes care of private life and at the same time a place that is inevitably a declaration of principles in public life.”
The circular plan mitigates the connection of public and private spaces and responds to the triangular shape of the site by orienting in all directions.
The interior opens to the surroundings through arched windows whose smooth parabolic subtractions reveal the depth of the ribbed concrete wall, which serves as a thermal mass for the home’s climate control.
The entry is on the second level, where there are two bedrooms with corresponding terraces, a lounge area and a four-car garage.
A sleek wooden staircase connects to a partially subterranean ground floor that is fully glazed, creating a light space beneath the heavy concrete shell.
The ground level – containing a kitchen and dining room – opens to a landscaped courtyard with a pool and barbecue area.
The primary bedroom sits on the top floor with a bathroom, dressing room and expansive terrace that looks out to the neighbouring mountains through an inverted-arch cut-out.
The levels are connected by a glazed vertical void that provides continuity and light for each room.
“A single glance allows to cover the whole height of the house, from the ground floor to the open sky,” the studio said.
The interior – designed by Línea Vertical – utilizes stone, marble and cuéramo wood.
Dark grey floors and walls make the green and red fabrics and leathers stand out, while lithographs and sculptures by Mexican artists balance the spaces.
The home will be the first prize of the 213th Traditional Tec raffle on 22 December 2022 to support scholarships for the Leaders of Tomorrow program. The prize includes two luxury vehicles that will be raffled with the house.
Alejandro Aravena, Elemental principal and 2016 Pritzker Prize winner, remarked on the transformation of architecture into education through the Sorteos Tec program.
The house produces “a common good; something similar to what is done through social housing,” he said.
“That is what one as an architect seeks to achieve all the time: to contribute to the common good through a work.”
Elemental is best known for its work in incremental social housing but has recently completed a concrete house with a monumental chimney on the Chilean coast and an oversized Jenga-inspired mass for the Innovation Center UC in Santiago.
The photography is by The Raws, Paco Álvarez.
Architects: ELEMENTAL, Alejandro Aravena, Gonzalo Arteaga, Víctor Oddó, Diego Torres, Juan Cerda (lead)
Team: André Barros, Carla Donato, Diego Teran, Mara Cruz, Federica Tebaldi
Structural engineering: SODICO ingeniería y Diseño, Raúl and Jorge Santos
Constructor: EDAGA, Homero Galindo
Interior architecture: Línea Vertical, Ana Landa
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