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.

How exactly do you get a multilevel house to sprawl? The architects laid out the rooms of the 10,800-square-foot, two-story board-formed concrete structure as a series—well, really a clump—of articulated pentagons that hew to the hillside, each one spilling into the next or stepping down to meet the change in grade. The effect is at once geometric and organic, as though a modern bungalow had implanted itself on the mountain and replicated until it formed a small colony in concrete and glass. Allotting each room five walls instead of four allowed the architects to fine-tune the angles to follow the landscape. “When you have five sides, you have more room to play,” says Bilbao.

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.


Tatiana Bilbao, S.C.
Paseo de la Reforma 382-3
Colonia Ju'rez
Tel./Fax +52 (55) 8589 8822
Delegaci'n Cuauht'moc
06600 M'xico DF

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Tatiana Bilbao, David Vaner,
Team leader: Thorsten Englert, Guido Ebbert
Design team: Enrique Salazar y Vanessa Guckel

Interior designer:
Esrawe Studio

Javier Ribe,
IESSA S.A. de C.V.

TOA, Taller de Operaciones Ambientales

LIZ Kai Diederichsen

Electric Engineering: Wiredhouse, LUZ Kai Diederichsen.
Air Conditioning: Aire y Confort.
Sanitary Facilities: Ticsa.
3D Models and Renders: ar3D ' Miguel Angel Flores.
Models: Enrique Salazar, Marco Robles.
Construction Supervision: Guido Ebbert.

General contractor:
Silvia Chabrand,
Arturo Barbosa

Iwan Baan - Photography
Studio: Schippersgracht 7-1
Amsterdam 1011 TR, The Netherlands
+31 (0) 20 320 06 06
Fax +31 (0)84 883 1330

Gross square footage:

10,800 sqm

Total construction cost:

$2 million

Completion date:

December 2012



Structural system
Load bearing concrete walls

Exterior cladding
Exposed concrete, pour in site

Slap with waterproof ready-mix concrete cover with gray damp-proof course roll system

Metal frame:
aluminum black frame custom design

transparent standard glass

Wood doors:
custom design

Interior finishes
Exposed concrete ceilings, walls and staircase

Floor and wall tile:
Handmade parquet 10x10cm, transversal cut

Traditional Mexican plumbing, cooper and pvc tubes

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
The ready-mixed concrete contains a damp-proof course that help heat insulation.