Los Zacatitos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Photos/ John Sinal
This project is the first of a series of desert dwelling prototypes that comprise an ongoing body of research into off-grid living in a relatively extreme climate. All three research sites are located in the remote community of Los Zacatitos, in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The project's four detached buildings and their related exterior spaces are carefully arranged around the contours of a natural bowl on the four-acre site so as to catch prevailing breezes, allow seasonal arroyos to flow freely, and in response to existing granite outcrops and desert flora. Two smaller villas with sleeping accommodation flank the principal living space with a garage / utility structure placed behind these buildings forming an entry court. Each villa is organized around a cooling courtyard planted with indigenous flora and irrigated with grey water. The passive heating/cooling strategies are founded on traditional spanish architecture’s use of outdoor courts and abstracted to create a modern green building form. The orientation of the villas and the interrelationship of exterior circulation, interior and exterior living spaces, and interior breezeways affords the use the prevailing breezes employing the Venturi effect to generate a comfortable living environment year round, while also mediating architectural considerations of privacy and place.
The minimal formal expression of the project was developed through a subtractive methodology applied to a series of platonic volumes carefully oriented on the site. In a manner that is analogous to the desert context, the understated formal complexity of the project was developed as a direct response to extreme environmental conditions.