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associates architecture creates a refuge of calm
Emerging from the pastel hued houses of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, this white plaster dwelling and gallery inspires calm. Conceived by Associates Architecture for a couple of young Italian-American designers, Sin Nombre Casa y Galeria is characterized by neutral color tones and a scheme that ‘works inwards’.
The new house is situated within a densely packed neighborhood in the historic center of San Miguel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 16th century. ‘The site, trapezoidal in shape and accessible only by a small uphill pedestrian road, had a slightly demolished plinth made of local stone,’ explain Nicolò Galeazzi and Martina Salvaneschi of Associates Architecture
images © Associates Architecture
An architecture of private worlds
Galeazzi and Salvaneschi’s design begins as an extrusion of the trapezoidal plot, making the house appear like a monolithic, and almost completely solid, volume from the outside. But once inside, the house opens up and the architects concept becomes clear: ‘an introverted inhabited enclosure that hides inside the three microcosms (three patios) of the living area and of the sleeping areas, protected within the context of the Mexican city.’
‘Referencing the local residential typology, we opted for a scheme that works inwards, and proposed a series of void spaces in the plan in the form of patios,’ says Salvaneschi. ‘These voids, together with the spiral staircase, are what gives the project its character. They filter out the city all around, perceived through a muffled noise and reflected colors; they suggest a different perception of scale to the user, in contrast to the intimate rooms inside; they allow a high contrast of light and shadows.’
The first void is the large plant-filled patio on the first floor, which connects to the kitchen, dining, and living areas by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. A spiral staircase then leads to the second floor, where two en-suite bedrooms are located. Each bedroom continues the microcosm concept with their own enclosed private patio. The patio of the larger bedroom also features a square shaped panel that opens up to the city. This operable panel is one of only two very carefully planned openings to the city, the other of which is a tiny window that looks towards the domed roof of San Miguel’s Church of the Immaculate Conception.
the large hinged panel opens up to the city
The design culminates in a rooftop terrace, which gives the residents unobstructed 360 degree views of the city. It’s a surprising but welcome end that helps anchor this otherwise introverted house to its location. The architects say, ‘The terrace, the last level of the house, opens a relationship to the city and the surrounding context.’
Galeazzi adds, ‘The two story house is designed to celebrate intimacy while at the same time maximizing exposure to natural light. And it achieves this thanks to the patios and a rooftop terrace.’
the surroundings are framed like a painting
neutral walls amplify sunlight and serve as a backdrop to showcase furniture pieces designed by the clients
the sunken living area with fireplace
the spiral staircase