This retreat designed by Robert Hutchison Architecture and JSa is tucked away in Temascaltepec in the luxuriant mountains of southern central Mexico, south of Valle de Bravo and a couple of hours’ drive from Mexico City. Everything about the program - its architecture, footprint and plant system - has been geared to achieving a holistic complex, fully integrated into its natural context.
The project slips completely into its luxuriant tropical setting with a three-fold program: a water collection, treatment and re-use system, a three-volume footprint immersed in the natural vegetation, and independent on-site energy and food production solutions.
The very name of the retreat - Rain Harvest Home - declares the aims of the project and its intimate connection within its natural location. In this region of central Mexico water has become an increasingly precious resource as temperatures rise and the population increases. For even if the region has a copious rainy season, rainwater harvesting is not common, water being most frequently pumped from distant watersheds.
In contrast, the project design by Hutchison and Sánchez includes a fully integrated water collection and regeneration plant in line with the local climate, where very dry winters are offset by copious rainfall during the rest of the year. Each of the three buildings has a rainwater collection system that feeds and stores water in above- and below-ground cisterns large enough to meet domestic water needs throughout the year.
A chemical-free treatment system recycles blackwater to greywater for use in toilets and to irrigate the on-site orchard. Walkways linking the buildings and other sections of the property also serve as bioswales conducting rainwater into the reservoirs and helping to prevent site erosion.
The decision to split the built volume into three separate
units - main home, bathhouse and art studio - was key to creating a manmade...
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