Perched above San Miguel de Allende on the slopes of the extinct Palo Huérfano Volcano, Casa Etérea reflects the infinite. Here in Central Mexico, in the Los Picachos mountain range, this architectural feat is more than a mere residence, but a site-specific art piece that feeds on the sun rays while collecting rainwater, immersed in the local nature through an enchanting aesthetic dialogue. The property extends over 800 square meters, and from the exteriors to the interiors, it’s strong point remains the connection with a remote ecosystem enjoying harmony and solitude with the local flora and fauna. All this is realized thanks to the main facade in glass and coated with UV reflective strips creating a bond with the seemingly infinite landscape.
Behind the concept and construction is the home’s owner and designer, Prashant Ashoka. “I knew that it was my time to create something of my own,” he told The New York Times. “And I’d always fantasized about escaping into nature, living on a mountain or a beach. But I decided to take a romantic notion many people flirt with and make it my reality.” So, Prashant decided to buy a piece of desert land and construct his own modernist castle. Located in what was once a highly coveted destination for the Beat Generation of the ‘60s, where great writers and minds like Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac once visited, this small off-grid paradise lives on its strength as a home dedicated to thought, art, and the writings of its owner.
The home is inspired by Mexican architect Luis Barragán, but while he preferred to work with cubes, Prashant Ashoka has favored manipulating geometric forms in line with the mountainous landscapes. In doing so, exteriors are married to the surrounding slopes at an inclination of 120°. Because of this, the back of the house — a ravine in the form of a “V” — welcomes a rushing cascade during the rainy season. Studied down to the last detail, the home is a feat of engineering whose foundations were realized in volcanic rock collected directly from the local terrain. “The idea was to be completely isolated and with no distraction other than the wild that surrounds you,” explained the designer.
Interiors present a melange of musings and cultures: that from South East Asia, recalling the origins of the homeowner, and that from the local territory, inspired by the environment framing the home itself. For example, two lamps realized in Balinese jute hang in the bedroom, while the kitchen was crafted as a culinary laboratory made from natural materials sourced in Mexico. Overall, entering the property means coming into a domestic panorama between exposed beams above, walls finished in concrete and sliding glass doors — useful for maintaining that sense of modernity in a decidedly natural context. Working surfaces presented in porcelain are offset by blackened walnut cabinets, which proudly display ancient jade vases from Sabah (a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo). Even the seats were realized in walnut, resting on a Turkish rug.
In shared spaces, foreign elements are cut and sewn together, like the sofa realized in buffalo leather, while a jute rug from Jaipur accompanies us towards the glass walls. Meanwhile, a red brick fireplace divides the living room from the bedrooms. In the private and intimate bedroom, stunning views give onto the surrounding nature as a precious resource for an eco-vintage interior design, along with objects found at markets (like a telescope from the City of Mexico or an extra-large basket from the Chinese province of Shaanxi). Its designer explains that the home was born from a freestanding tub in brass, made by artisans from Santa Clara de Cobra (in the State of Michoacán) that enjoys a view and aesthetic fusing beauty and efficiency.
This modernist estate with a desert view can also be rented to enjoy a fully immersive experience. The dreamy interior design — to be experienced to the fullest — is paired to natural excursions including trekking, horseback riding, and tours around the botanical center nearby. And yet, perhaps the most simple and surprising activity of all is to enjoy the view of the celestial sky as it reflects off the home.