Casa Mérida, a Brutalist Villa Inspired by Mexico’s Vernacular Architecture

Isabella Prisco
·3 minuto per la lettura
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner

From ELLE Decor

“How is it possible to build architecture that reflects and considers the Yucatán identity, to make this house belong to its territory? In other words, how could this house be Mayan?” It’s from these reflections investigating the relationship between the design and local culture, that architect Ludwig Godefroy gave life and meaning to Casa Mérida, a villa in concrete with a contemporary design, whose brutalist forms hide a soft and simple spirit. The single family residence designed by the French creative is situated, like its name would suggest, in Mérida, the vibrant capital of Mexico's Yucatán region.

Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner

Constructed just a few blocks from the city's main square, Casa Mérida is distinguished for its unique horizontal extension, where the property winds around a rectangle alternating positive and negative volumes on a lot stretching 80 meters by 8 meters. The result is a long “lane” connecting the entrance door to the pool on the other side, uniting the entire architecture in an attempt to mitigate hot temperatures that blanket the territory year round, with peaks reaching 40°C in May. Sweltering temperatures then have caused the local architecture to develop over the centuries in a recognizable constructive style translating the effects of Mexican colonization in Yucatán with a singular, tropical vernacular that has long dealt with heat and humidity. Residences like those designed by Ludwig Godefroy are fundamentally based on cross ventilation: a sequence of volumes with high ceilings are all connected between one another by a series of patios that allow the air to flow throughout the home as a natural cooling system.

Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner

Still, the elongated prospective of Casa Mérida is more than a functional trick. Instead, it looks to cite the Sacbé, typical white Mayan streets stretching 4 to 20 meters across and extending up to 300 km, connecting squares, temples, or other architectural elements within the city. This long line of concrete then becomes a guiding wall, like an axis, visually organizing the home and crossing the spine of the entire property.

Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner

The goal of the architect was also that to physically disconnect Casa Mérida from the rest of the city. To do so, the layout was modified, inverting the social area with that in the back. The living area, kitchen and pool were constructed on the far end of the lot, in the most tranquil space far from the noise of the street, while the courtyard was brought forward as a kind of buffer to the city chaos. External spaces were then integrated in the internal space, blurring the traditional threshold between interiors and exteriors, increasing the visual depth of the property and the sensory perception of its volumes.

Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner

Isolated from everything that surrounds it, the concrete villa vaunts warm interiors that are bare but welcoming, and completely self-sufficient. In addition to encouraging the recirculation of air, the residence completes a full cycle of water regeneration. The rainwater absorbed from the soil ends up in a series of container wells placed under sculptural collectors that, beyond functioning as traditional tubes, are an integral part of the home’s aesthetic. A unique water system also exploits the waste water to irrigate the garden. As for electricity, Casa Mérida is hyper-accessorized: while solar boilers heat the water, solar panels satisfy the home’s remaining energy needs.

Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner
Photo credit: Rory Gardiner