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Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

A 312-metre-long concrete wall provides the framework for this house and art centre designed by Japanese architect for a picturesque site on the seafront (photos by + slideshow).

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

The building provides a home for the , an arts charity established by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi and directed by Patricia Martin, best known as the curator of .

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

The plan is laid out like a giant compass. The long concrete wall runs west to east, following the coastline, to create a series of different rooms and zones.

The north-south axis is provided by an approach road, as well as a long narrow terrace and swimming pool that extend out towards the water’s edge.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“The project site is situated directly facing the South Pacific Ocean, sharing 550 metres of coastline with only the breathtaking beach,” explained , who also recently completed a .

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“With such a generous length of site, I have created a single concrete wall of 312 metres long by 3.6 metres high,” he said.

“The wall creates horizontal separation between public programmes on the north side and private programmes on the south side.”

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“The wall also generates the main circulation path cutting across every programme, serving as a dual interior and exterior wall,” he added. “Rich red and orange sunset is to be reflected on the concrete surface.”

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

The main building forms the centre of the cross formation. The concrete wall splits the interior into two halves, with reception spaces on the north side and living areas to the south.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

The largest space in the building is a grand living and dining room, featuring a huge wooden dining bench and a slightly sunken lounge facing out towards the ocean. It leads out to the terrace and its two swimming pools – a long narrow pool for lengths, and a triangular padding pool.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

The family living quarters for Sodi – who divides his time between Mexico and New York – occupies a pair of triangular spaces tucked away on one side on the living room, screened behind more concrete walls.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

To contrast with the starkness and linearity of the walls, the roof is covered with layers of dried Royal Palm Tree leaves, commonly used in the region because they provide shelter while also allowing natural ventilation.

Buildings with these types of roof are known locally as Palapa.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“The interior vertical space is formed by two essences,” said Ando.

“Above eye level captures the local and traditional spirit with the Palapa roofs. Whereas below eye level captures the contemporary essence with geometric concrete walls, columns, stone floorings and the wooden shutters.”

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“Most of the interior spaces have no distinction from the exterior other than the Palapa roofs hovering over them,” he added.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

Other buildings on the site include a series of six small cabins that function as guesthouses, each modelled on a traditional Palapa. They are located at the western end of the site, along the south side of the wall.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

To the east of the main house, a long narrow building functions as a large exhibition gallery, while a separate structure beyond forms a large studio for Sodi and other resident artists.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

There is not a single pane of glass anywhere around the site, and the only mechanical ventilation installed is in the gallery. The aim was for the house to feel as exposed to nature as possible.

Two materials were chosen for flooring: a mix of granite and marble known as marmolina, and a Mexican hardwood named parota.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

“This is a very unique project with use of various uncommon materials, allowing me to create architecture and spaces that cannot be created other than in this location,” added Ando.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

Tadao Ando became famous for a series of projects that exploit the role of light and shadow in architecture, from his Church of the Light in Osaka to his Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, and was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1995.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

In recent years he has taken on several projects in North and South America. His opened in 2013, and he added a in 2014.

Casa Wabi is an artist's retreat along the Mexican coast

Casa Wabi, which also goes by the name Bosco Studio and House, opened in late 2014. It has become a new centre for the local community of Puerto Escondido, as well as a popular retreat for other artists.

Photography is by .


Project credits:

Client: Bosco Sodi
Architect: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates – Tadao Ando, Alex H Iida
Architect of record: BAAQ’ – Jose Alfonso Quñones, Luis Muñoz Pérez, Joaquin Castillo
Structural engineer: Javier Ribe Alfredo Athie
Map engineer: Jorge Ivan
General contractor: BAAQ’CAFARO
Concrete works: BAAQ’ – Victor Raygosa, Juan Sodi
Millwork: Javier Gomez, Josue Vazquez
Roofing: Alejandro Sanjines
Electrical systems: Miguel Angel Dorantes
Mechanical system: Antonio Esparza
Plumbing: Antonio Esparza
Doors and windows: Enedino Barragan

Site plan – click for larger image
Plan – click for larger image
Site section – click for larger image
Long section one – click for larger image
Cross section – click for larger image

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