Image in modal.

Forty-three-year-old Rogelio Bores, based in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, in central Mexico, takes a contemplative approach to design. This informed the name he gave to his architectural practice, HW Studio. “The letter H in Spanish has no sound,” he explains. “It’s the graphic representation of silence. The W refers to the Japanese tea ceremony wabi-cha, from which several Japanese aesthetic principles, such as wabi-sabi, are derived.”

Hill in Front of the Glen.
Hill in Front of the Glen.

Hill in Front of the Glen (1, 2, and top of page)
Bores tucked this home beneath an artificial hill to give it a sense of protection, while allowing residents to peek out from large walls of glass on either side. An air of mystery is enhanced by a narrow walkway set between concrete walls, with a path anchored at one end by a tall tree and steps leading down to the main level. The living area is cradled by a vaulted concrete ceiling. Photos © Cesar Bejar, click to enlarge.

“We begin every project,” says Bores, “by contemplating the three variables of architecture: place, user, and designer.” To learn about place, he and his team make multiple visits to the site, “listening to its soft and particular murmurs.” He gets to know his clients through a personality-profile test, administered by a neuropsychologist. Then, as designer, Bores meditates silently on the information gathered.

The relaxed pace is consistent with the hours Bores and his colleagues keep. Monday through Friday, they arrive at the studio between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and leave promptly at 4 p.m. “For us,” say Bores, “it’s important to maintain a balance in our lives.” They work on one project at a time. Design, development, and documentation of each take three months, and they undertake only four per year.

Ai Department Tower.
Ai Department Tower.

Ai Department Tower (3 & 4)
This apartment building acknowledges the legacy of the mid-20th-century architecture found in the Chapultepec neighborhood of Morelia where it stands. Four floors of residences sit above basement parking and a street-level exhibition space for the client’s collection of classic cars. The building’s front faces east, so the architect introduced thin aluminum shutters to protect the interiors from the morning sun. Photos © Dane Alonso

This leisurely schedule is no impediment to productivity. In its first six years, HW Studio has completed 15 projects, including Enso House II . Currently in progress are dwellings in Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, and, in the firm’s first foreign venture, Alaska.

MK House.

MK House
Early in his career, Bores designed this 8,000-square-foot house around a central courtyard envisioned as a small “forest” that would attract birds and offer the sound of wind rustling through foliage. Four volumes surround the courtyard, with one clad in black granite that floats above the mostly white geometry of the rest of the project. Photo © HW Studio

In pastoral settings, Bores uses transparency to establish direct connections to nature. In urban contexts, he deploys opaque white boxes to create refuges from complexity and chaos. In both types of situations, he aims to make the architecture a discreet backdrop rather than the main event. “We try,” he says, “to create an open space ready to embrace the life that will inhabit it.”

Unnamed House.

Unnamed House (5 - 7)
The clients for this house in Morelia had been burglarized at a previous residence, so Bores gave this one a simple, unassuming appearance on the street, with no windows to the outside. Instead, he oriented it around a set of interior courtyards and imbued the living spaces with a quiet sense of security. Barrel-vaulted rooms allude to the arcades of the city’s San Agustín convent and acknowledge the clients’ deep religious faith. Photos © Cesar Bejar

Unnamed House.
Unnamed House.

HW Studio details all of its designs with economy and precision, with the goal of achieving forms and surfaces that are flush, frameless, and virtually seamless. Asked where he acquired the technical skills to accomplish this, Bores cites lessons learned while earning his graduate degree at Universidad Europea in Valencia, Spain. There he studied with several masters of materiality, including Fran Silvestre and Álvaro Siza. He also credits highly skilled craftspeople, with whom he and his team work closely. “However,” he adds, “I do not rule out the possibility that the obsessiveness of my surgeon father has something to do with it.”

Shi House.

Shi House
Perched on the slope of a ravine in Morelia, Mexico, this house balances a series of opposites: a vertical block on the uphill side versus a horizontal box below it; living spaces open to views of the rugged terrain outside versus private ones illuminated and ventilated by a long interior courtyard, as well as natural versus abstract. Photo © Cesar Bejar

It’s difficult to look at HW Studio’s work without admiring its reductive simplicity. But Bores prefers to dissociate himself from conventional notions of minimalism in favor of what he calls “essentialism.” “It’s not about reducing elements,” he explains. “It’s about uncovering the intrinsic essence of each space and imbuing it with inner meaning.” This may be a distinction without a difference, because, whatever the design intent, the ultimate test is the quality of the spaces and the envelopes that enclose them. In HW Studio’s portfolio, these all share an ethereal beauty infused with rigor, restraint, refinement, and repose.

Rogelio Vallejo Bores.

Rogelio Vallejo Bores. Photo © Cesar Bejar



PRINCIPAL: Rogelio Vallejo Bores

EDUCATION: Universidad Europea, Valencia, master’s degree in design and innovation, 2019; Universidad Europea, Madrid, master’s degree in art and new technologies, 2005; Universidad Vasco de Quiroga, bachelor’s degree in architecture, 2003

WORK HISTORY: Garduño Arquitectos, 2007–8

KEY COMPLETED PROJECTS: Shi House, 2023; Unnamed House, 2023; Hill in Front of the Glen, 2021; Ai Department Tower, 2020; Kaji, 2019; La Cantera Foodmarket, 2018 (all in Morelia, Mexico); House of the Four Courtyards, 2022; MK House, 2012 (both in Pátzcuaro, Mexico); Enso House II, 2022, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

KEY CURRENT PROJECTS: House Facing the Lake, Morelia; Tao House, Puerto Vallarta (both in Mexico)