Early last year, Mexican architecture firm fabian m escalante h | arquitectos completed a holiday home in the central highlands of Mexico for a family who sought respite from city living. Designed to help its inhabitants recharge in nature, the residence — named Terraza / Rancho Sierra Allende — embraces the landscape from all directions with large insulated glazing and outdoor terraces. The elevated retreat also has a small footprint with the use of passive cooling systems, high-performance insulation, recycled natural resources, a garden irrigation system that draws from onsite rainwater collection and a wastewater treatment system.

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holiday home with oxidized steel and glass exterior

Set within a pristine riverine landscape, the Terraza / Rancho Sierra Allende celebrates its beautiful waterside setting with a site-sensitive design that preserved all existing trees on the property. To make the home feel like an extension of the landscape, the architects combined locally sourced, natural materials, including timber, clay and basalt, with a durable structural system of steel elements and wooden beams. The main gabled volume at the center is clad in oxide-finished steel panels that complement the wooded surroundings. Concrete piles elevate the building for protection against flooding and to reduce site impact.

Related: Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

trees growing in courtyard
glass home with one ceramic lattice wall for privacy

The home is wrapped on three sides by an expansive outdoor terrace with north-facing views of the river and the dam. The south side of Terraza / Rancho Sierra Allende is partly shielded from view by a row of trees lining an outdoor walkway. The main entrance is located on the west, where stairs lead up to a side of the terrace furnished with an outdoor kitchen and dining area, spaces that function as an extension of the indoor living areas.

horses near wood, steel and glass home
glass home next to a river

The other primary entrance is on the east side of the home, where a footbridge provides passage over an inlet of water and a ceramic lattice wall partly shields the house from view. Insulated, glazed doors located throughout the building allow the interior to maintain a constant connection with the outdoors while filling the rooms with an abundance of natural light.

+ fabian m escalante h | arquitectos

Photography by Jorge Sucar via fabian m escalante h | arquitectos