Casa Volta sits peacefully just 328 feet (100 meters) from the south Oaxacan coastline, yet makes a loud statement about sustainable architecture with reused materials and a balance with nature.
The open-air campus is accented with dominant brick vaults. Following, the rounded rooftops make a bold contrast against the green landscape surrounding the structures. Casa Volta also encompasses six distinct indoor and outdoor spaces, with a long pool located down the middle.
The green design by architects at Ambrosi Etchegaray provides for upper terrace gardens and minimal site impact. Meanwhile, the exterior vegetation was left intact and courtyards were added to the plan. A connection with the outdoor space is central to the design, literally and figuratively, with completely open living, eating and cooking areas. On each side of the pool lies a single bedroom and bathroom.
Those rounded brick roofs were built using waste from the nearby Casa Wabi Foundation, where clay is baked in brick ovens. This material was chosen for several reasons. The first is that it expedited the build since the materials were so close. The second was the low travel distance and related emissions. The third was low cost. All of these reasons benefitted the client and the environment.
Additionally, the simple Khanian construction was chosen for a quick build. It also served as a way to provide air circulation throughout the corridors and rooms. Designers used reed lattices as doors and windows to provide airflow without sacrificing privacy.
The interior design is kept minimalist to complement the natural surroundings. The design team chose to reuse furniture rather than source goods made from virgin materials.
The architects summarize the project by saying, “Casa Volta is the proof that an adequate relationship between architecture and nature can be achieved with few well-thought elements, that constructive order is not in contradiction with the apparent chaos that surrounds it, on the contrary, they can merge in a harmonious way. It is also a reminder that simplicity is always elegant.”
Images via Jaime Navarro and Sergio López