Casa Tello

by | 18. Jan 2018

Brick | Project | Residential
A front elevation photo showing the contrast between the white building and surrounding greenery

Casa Tello by PRODUCTORA. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

The Mexican city Cuernevaca gets its name from the Nahuatl phrase Cuauhnāhuac, meaning surrounded by or close to trees. It has a long history of being an oasis of sorts, loved for its abundant vegetation and year round temperate climate – Aztec emperors held their summer residences there and it remains a favored escape for residents from the nearby Mexico City. Casa Tello by Productora epitomizes its Cuernevaca context: ‘the city of eternal spring’.

A red brick staircase leads up to the white front door of the house

The home steps down with the garden, connecting and extending the living spaces to the exterior. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

The family home is nestled in a lush garden, staggering down and across the site’s slope to form a series of pocket gardens and terraces, which amount to half of the small property. Skirted by a low stone wall the garden envelops the home, softening the buildings white monolithic form.

A large tree obscures the front entrance to the house

The home is framed by existing vegetation, skirted by a low stone wall. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

The white hosue is completely hidden behind a thick brush of leaves

Lush vegetation envelops Casa Tello. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

Casa Tello is made up of four volumes, each with a 5 x 5 meter footprint. These identical forms sit according to the landscape, skirting existing trees and following the site’s contours in a string of stepped cubes. These staggered boxes create a series of offset spaces both in plan and section, forming interesting visual and spatial relationships both internally and externally. When moving through the house outlooks onto the garden change across the split levels, framed dramatically through large openings; internally vistas across the stepped levels visually link the living areas and their various daily activities.

A red brick floor separates the threshold between interior and exterior.

Offset spaces create intimate garden courtyards, connecting interior and exterior living space. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

This staggering also allows for a high level of porosity within the home. No doors or partitions separate the living spaces on the ground floor – even the master bedroom’s entrance remains open. The split levels grant each living space its own intimacy and programmatic separation, while maintaining a generous, open and expansive quality throughout the dwelling. The double height dining room and grand staircase connects all living areas to a central core, and visually articulates the staggered spatial arrangement of the home.

an interior shot showing a concrete staircase connecting two levels

Split levels grant an openness to the house, while each living space maintains programmatic isolation and privacy. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

A man walking up the concrete staircase

The double height living space and staircase connects all rooms to a central core. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

The architects employed a thrifty construction system of load-bearing hollow brick and beam and block concrete flooring throughout. The materials are left unfinished, forming a simple but highly textured palette. Interior red-brick walls wrap down to become the floor finish, which then extend to pave the external terraces, blurring the threshold between interior and exterior space. The underside of the beam and block concrete flooring is left exposed to form the ceilings throughout, a robust and economical choice which also adds a level of detail and tactility through the subtle variation of color between each block. In contrast to the textured interior, the white rendered exterior becomes a mute canvas for the vegetation, a backdrop for its vibrancy and color.  

an image showing the material palette of the project: red brick, concrete, and black steel.

Textured interior of red brick and beam and block concrete. Photograph by Luis Gallardo

Productora describes their work as ‘the production of clearly legible projects with limited gesture’. Casa Tello does just this; through direct spatial and material language Productora have created a timeless home in direct conversation with the surrounding landscape – a small domestic oasis in ‘the city of eternal spring’.

a red brick floor continues from the outside into the inside

Material continuity spaces and blurs the threshold between interior and exterior living space. Photograph by Luis Gallardo.

Black and white drawings of the three floor plans

Floor Plans. Courtesy of PRODUCTORA.

Black and white drawings of three sections

Sections. Courtesy of PRODUCTORA.

Black and white drawings of three building elevations

Elevations. Courtesy of PRODUCTORA.


SIZE180 sq.m