The mountains outside Monterrey, Mexico, offer city views and forested vistas, but the terrain ruled out the one thing that the clients, a couple with six children, had their hearts set on: a house all on one level. There was no way to build a single-story structure without excavating deep into the hillside or doing some daredevil cantilevering. “But we wanted to work with this idea of making it flow the way a house with one floor does,” says Tatiana Bilbao, principal of her Mexico City–based architecture firm.
The designers threaded the living and dining areas around several existing trees on the hilly site, building teak-planked terraces around the trunks and leaving a central patio open in the middle of the plan. At least one wall of every room features floor-to-ceiling windows. “We placed the windows to have every room frame a different view,” says Bilbao. “Some of them go directly to the forest, some directly to the city.”
In the western wing of the house, the private living quarters—two levels of bedrooms and dressing rooms, along with a studio and library—spiral around a skylit stair. As on the main floor, the circulation follows the topography: on the first level, for instance, each child's bedroom is slightly lower than the next, separated by a few steps.
The architects left the concrete structure exposed on both the exterior and interior. They warmed up the living spaces with square-tiled oak floors—another geometric flourish—and generally limited themselves to a straightforward palette of concrete, wood, and glass. By choosing such simple surfaces, they instilled a sense of calm in this jigsaw puzzle of a house.
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