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Observatory House

Gabriel Orozco | Tatiana Bilbao

Observatory House
By Raymund Ryan -

That’s not just the sound of surf we hear, as it splashes up and recedes down the beach and rocks. That’s the sound of surf coming from multiple directions: the beach to the west; the stony promontory (now with a fragile-looking crucifix) to the south; and another beach arcing away past some simple, shaded shacks to the east. That’s where the sun comes from.
During the course of these hot Oaxacan days, the sun’s place in the sky transitions from the bay on our left to above the promontory - jutting ahead, prow-like, into the Pacific Ocean - to a molten fringe behind a straggle of palm trees on our right. We are, consciously, subject to the motion of the earth. The house is a viewing deck, a platform for rituals, a plinth anticipating an absent superstructure yet hollowed out by the precise hemisphere of a plunge pool.
Before dawn, silent youths clamber to position on the outermost rocks; grey birds squawk and cry in their mutual pursuit of fish. Only a few boats make their temporary appearance on the empty, endless surface of the sea. At night, a suture of electric light signals the presence of Puerto Escondido farther down the coast. The moon appears. Its white, spherical mass hovers far above, in sibling association, illuminating the pool’s concave belly with a delicate web of light.
There’s not much to do. That, presumably, helped attract the artist Gabriel Orozco to this particular spot. His new vacation home - designed in collaboration with the architect, Tatiana Bilbao - feels archetypal, at one with the world and evoking primal narratives. To get here, we’ve crossed the eastern beach and scrambled up a low hillside on an approximate path. Basic requirements (sleeping, washing, cooking) are gathered within the plinth whereas ultimate, unquantifiable needs (the tease of logic, observation, fun) are catered for above.
Below deck, the inverted dome of the pool is a pregnant swelling in each of the four, axially-determined rooms (two bed...

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