Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Architecture Wednesday: Casa Etérea

There’s that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where the monolith appears in the dessert and the apes go, well, ape. This monolith appeared in the hills above San Miguel de Allende and I went nuts; not just because it’s one of the places in the world where I would want to live, but because of the house itself.

Casa Etérea, AKA Ethereal House, is both architecture and art installation; a secluded mirrored house on a mountainside in Mexico offers travelers the freedom to reconnect with nature. The house sits in a  grove of mesquite trees, clad in bird-friendly mirrored panels and seems to disappear into the rugged terrain of the extinct volcano Palo Huérfano.

It was conceived as an off-grid hideaway for two—by Mexico-based Singaporean writer and designer Prashant Ashoka. Casa Etérea is an 800-square-foot dwelling that draws all its power from solar energy, gets all its water supply from collected rainwater, and uses a patterned ultraviolet coating on the mirrored exterior making it visible to birds while remaining reflective to the human eye.

Ashoka wanted to leave the landscape untouched, so the foundation of the house was built entirely from rock collected off the mountain. And by utilizing site orientation, efficient ventilation design, and insulated glass, the house naturally regulates temperature in the semi-arid desert climate of the central Mexican highlands.

Inside, the open-planned concept consists of two rectilinear volumes that merge at a 120-degree V-shaped intersection, mimicking the angle of the ravine visible through the exposed glass shower. From the central living space and bedroom, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors frame vistas of towering cliffs, while opening to connect with a decked patio and pool area shaded by olive and pomegranate trees. Inside, exposed ceiling beams and concrete walls celebrate the construction process, while a material palate of jute, leather, wood and stone continue the natural aesthetic for the furnishings—including a statement copper bathtub beside the bed. Behind the intimate kitchen, a rooftop stairway access doubles as a utility room, and remote-controlled outdoor PVC shutters were added to provide security and privacy.

But while the inside is lovely and luxe and peaceful, it’s the outside that stuns. The mirrored façade diffuses the liminal space between the wild and the structured while allowing the volume to take on a transitional quality as it reflects the unfolding seasons. As it catches first light, the house gleams as a blue-tinged box, standing in glassy contrast against the felted nocturnal blackness of the mountainside. And in the ombre hues of sunset the volume scintillates against the landscape like a mirage, before disappearing entirely.

And yet it’s the night sky, flooded with stars that reflects the true beauty, the ethereal nature, of Casa Etérea Casa. And, best of all, no one lives in the house, because it’s used as a retreat, a getaway, a place to just be …


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I LOVE these futuristic/natural constructions. They seem to blend in with the landscape and at the same time, they stand out.
I love the layout. The outdoors seems to blend seamlessly with the indoors. Love the bathroom! And the living space feels totally cool. That night photo is stunning.


Mistress Maddie said...

I love the scenery more then the house. Way to doctor/dentist officey looking for me. This comes across more art installation than home for me. The only feature I truly loved, is the outdoor/open air shower and bathroom. But it's a nice size home for moi.

Dave R said...

Nice, but make sure your married to someone who does windows.

the dogs' mother said...

Very different and an amazing
(I like the horse :-)

uptonking said...

Interesting, but all kinds of wrong. I can't imagine the detrimental effects building such a thing had on the land around it. People don't respect nature. They just get and do as they like... what an incredible waste of time, energy and natural beauty. (I am becoming such a sour puss, Bob) (Please forgive.) LOL

Bob said...

That night picture sold me, and the fact that it's in San Miguel de Allende.

I love that it reflects the surroundings and the night sky, but is fully open in the back. And, yeah, that shower ...

If windows is my biggest worry then find me a realtor!!!

It's very different from other homes I've seen in San Miguel de Allende, and it's not big but feels big because of the glass and the views!

It was built for the environment, using stones for the foundation that come from the site. It draws all its power from solar energy, gets all its water supply from collected rainwater, and uses a patterned ultraviolet coating on the mirrored exterior making it visible to birds while remaining reflective to the human eye. Very eco-friendly.

Moving with Mitchell said...

This is a big YES for me!

Helen Lashbrook said...

a couple of mirrored bulk containers stuck together doth not an amazing building make, although the night sky reflections are stunning - you wouldn't be able to do that here, too much light pollution.

Travel said...

I'd have to fiddle with the decorating, a little, and it needs a second bedroom and bath, but I like the box, and the interior (I would have to clutter up that kitchen!) Nice place to spend a few days of quiet

uptonking said...

Bob... allow me to clarify. I meant during construction. This house displaced whatever had been there, in that space for eons. During construction, I am assuming they had to truck in all those materials. That had a negative impact on that environment. There was something there before this house came to be. Was it another house? I doubt it. Not everything needs to be occupied by human kind. Nature should be allowed to exist without us stomping all over it. I realize they re-landscaped and now they think this is all environmentally sound. But I, personally, don't believe that it should have been done in the first place.