As an architect living in the mountains outside Sandpoint, Idaho, it is always fun to design something a little different. We are currently in the schematic design phase for a small beach house in Mexico. This home will be located on the Pacific coast between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, about 30 miles SE of Zihuatanejo and the beach resort town of Ixtapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero. There are several roof decks to take advantage of great views in all directions, including the beach just below, and fisherman boats anchored to the south. The home is designed to capture the ocean breezes in the warm, tropical climate.
Main Level and Rooftop Level
This will truly be an indoor/outdoor home. Most of the home is actually outdoors, with enclosed indoor areas having air-conditioning. The kitchen (cocina) is outdoors, covered by a waterproof deck above, with a large outdoor bar for those still wet from the swimming pool. The guest bathroom is shared with the pool area, with an organically formed outdoor shower. The upper level consists of the master suite and several rooftop gardens. Awnings, hammocks and lounge chairs will be provided. The owners will supply the daiquiris, margaritas and Coronas.
The landscaping will consist of an infinity-edged swimming pool hovering over the Pacific Ocean, along with terraced patios, pergolas, another outdoor kitchen, gardens, planters, palm trees, and more hammocks. As my grandfather used to say, “This is real living!”
I was excited to design a beach house in Mexico when I was approached by the owners, who live in Idaho. I grew up in California, where I was exposed to several styles of architecture, from the beach to the mountains. I also learned about Mexican history and culture in school. At Texas Tech one of the architects I studied was Luis Barragan, who was one of the most influential Mexican architects of the 20th century (he was also a very prominent landscape architect). I’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to design some Mission and Tuscan style homes in California.
Every project is different, and it’s just a matter of bringing out the owner’s own tastes to fruition. Some of the elements are borrowed from the local indigenous architecture that evolved over centuries to make the most of the shade and breezes. The owners wanted a more organic flow for this home though, more so than what it traditionally in the area. There are some aspects of mountain architecture, such as the gnarled wood columns and timbered ceilings. The owners also supplied me with several books and printouts of their favorite elements. Some books they really liked that I found very helpful were:
- Casas en la Costa Mexicana and Casas el la Costa 2, both of the Lifestyles Nature & Architecture series by Fernando de Haro & Omar Fuentes
- Casa Mexicana Style by Annie Kelly, with some great photographs by Tim Street-Porter
- Houses by the Sea: Mexico’s Pacific Coast by Mauricio Martinez
My wife tells me she wants to retire somewhere by the beach. I halfway joke that if I can get enough beach houses in my portfolio I can still work when I’m “retired”.
Drawings are attached with permission from the homeowners.
John Hendricks, AIA Architect
Hendricks Architecture, Mountain and beach architects in Sandpoint, Idaho.
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