Text by Katie Gerfen
How do you answer the needs of an aging couple and a newborn in one house? That was the challenge posed to Mexico City–based Arquitectura en Movimiento Workshop when it got the commission to design the LPZ House. The simplest solution was to place all of the daily living spaces on a single level, with only a guest bedroom and a home gym occupying the partial second story. This ensures that the couple doesn't have to navigate stairs to tend to the daily needs of themselves and their grandchild, which may become difficult as they grow older. Even the staircase to the second level is switch-backed so that the amount of climbing in each stretch is limited. Spaces throughout the open-plan home are flexible and can be adapted to the family's changing needs and circumstances.
From the outside, the house appears to be a full two-story structure, a trick of the eye that results in taller-than-normal ceiling heights throughout the home, and the only expansive glazing is on the second-story volume. The architects deliberately raised the main level slightly above the street to ensure privacy from any peering neighbors, and they made the front, travertine-clad façade more opaque, with minimal window openings and a carved stone lattice over the front door. Moving through the house, the living and family areas are all light-filled spaces with full-height glazing. All of the living areas—including the kitchen, dining, living room, and family bedrooms—are clustered in a C-shape around a landscaped garden courtyard. The architects describe the layout of the rooms as being "oriented in such a way as to make the best use of sunlight throughout the day."
The ample glazing also offers views of a volcanic range from the hillside site, showing off one of the great natural wonders of the region. The materials used throughout the house—travertine, volcanic rock, walnut beams, and glass—were all sourced locally, and create a natural and airy feel in the stone-clad home. The same materials are used in the other homes in the neighborhood, which has seen a fair amount of new construction in recent years, but to different effect. In the LPZ House, the architects describe the palette as having been "applied in a way that challenges the surrounding environment and expresses our architectural ideas by means of a design concept with a focus on geometry." Not surprising, considering the local practice is made up of young architects who have studied in Mexico, the U.S., and Spain and bring with them different perspectives on what even the most simple home can be.
Their ideas about geometry aren't just found outside; the interiors are equally faceted, while still being functional above all else. The builders carefully lined the double-height ceilings in timber, which calls attention to their slantedness. Stone floors offer easy maintenance, but also lend richness to the space. What's more, they—along with the rest of the house—will endure the spills of a toddler and the activity of a teenager, serving the family well for years to come.