Casa Erasto is conceived as a continuation of the forest in a 470 sqm plot. Here, the space is contained by a glass wall, surrounded by a garden that connects the interior to the forest nearby. An urban residence that stands in the middle of nature. Its floating terraces, can open and close their windows towards the ground below, to blur the boundaries between inside and outside. Casa Erasto is a house that constantly reveals how it was built by letting the structure and the installations remain visible.
The residence is located on the hills of the Mexico City valley on the border with Chapultepec Forest. A diagonal street in the suburbs that creates a gap between the adjacent house and the woods. A slight gesture enables the building to steer towards the forest, and gain extended views towards the trees and the city.
Casa Erasto, erects itself and goes deep into a solid limestone ground which makes the home a stable pin in a seismic region. The structure is a 6 x 6 m concrete core that rises from the foundations and goes up 12 meters tall. The core is the house itself. It contains all the vertical and horizontal installations, the vertical circulation and the most private areas of the house. Four vertical openings in each floor create apertures and frames of natural light, ventilation and views towards the garden. They are controlled by pivoting iron plates that can be manually rotated as required. Inside the core are the most intimate spaces, such as bathrooms, showers and closets.
The rest of the indoor spaces are glass surrounded terraces that emerge and float from the core. They contain the areas that require a greater amount of light, aperture and interaction with vegetation such as bedrooms and public spaces. The terraces are 9 x 14 meter slabs that pass through the vertical structure generating horizontal planes with double axis cantilevers. The glass skin that contains them is designed to be three different typologies, used depending on the immediate needs of the space they protect. All frames are made from rusted steel to reduce the section of window frames to a minimum. The elements repeat every 88 cm and generate a rhythm that gives a sense of verticality to the space. At the same time, they make it more flexible by allowing the user to locally control the porosity of the house. In some cases, the frames are divided horizontally by a green Tikal marble slab to receive headboards and kitchen counters.
A dark ramp, contained by a massive oxidized bamboo planter on top and black volcanic rock on the bottom, gives entrance to the residence. The path to the main level door begins the process of entering a house amongst nature. The most public program of the house is located here. It opens completely and brings the garden into the library, the living room, the dining room and the kitchen. A continuous slab with no interruptions except for one. A concrete core that pierces upwards and grows through the levels above. The two upper floors have bedrooms that peek out to the treetops on three of their four sides. The roof carries a garden that serves as an observatory and contemplative area partly shaded by a wooden pergola. When seen from above, the entire plot is perceived as an uninterrupted vegetated space that stands out from its urban context.
The presence of vegetation is crucial in all our projects.
Gardens can form, deform and make space more abstract, profound, and compact. The landscaping project of the house was equally, or even more important than the house itself. The house is built as a concrete and glass body that is constantly inhabiting the garden. The plants belong to the region and existed here before urbanization. Utilizing endemic vegetation is a key point in our design. A bamboo perimeter was planted to blur the limits of the plot. The walls that separate the house from the neighbors were treated with green stucco and then with a cover of black soil to invite moss and let a natural green wall develop throughout the years. A body of water, weeping willows, jacarandas, atenuatas, furns, stipas, and pampa grass, amongst others, introduce different and unique textures, colors, and visual marks. Plants are living organisms that constantly change the landscape and the interactions that happen between the interior and the exterior. We seek for materils that are equally affected by the passing of time. The ageing of materials is essential to our daily practice.
In Casa Erasto, every detail was designed. We believe in the importance of craftsmanship. We conceived and manufactured everything. Handles, downlights and luminaires, doors, window frames, closets. A house that started as a sketch and ended as a building. Everything in between was drawn, re-drawn, supervised, and constructed by our office.
Vertebral is an architecture and landscaping studio set inside a busy city made of concrete and steel. This has influenced our practice entirely. We have always been drawn to places of nature and open outdoors. This is why we design gardens and build around them. To bring the forest into the city. We build with the materials we find in Mexico City and have learned to rely upon time and weather to give them their final appearance.
Architecture for us has a sequence. Narrow paths that lead to open spaces. Light that is dimmed and brightened. Views that come into sight and disappear. An architecture of encounters between the inside and the outside.