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biophilic travels: a respectful retreat nestled in the landscape

in biophilic travels

Designing spaces that connect to nature, respecting and celebrating the uniqueness of the local surroundings, bringing people closer to the natural world. These objectives all relate to a biophilic approach to design, and they can all be found in the home we’re touring in this episode of Biophilic Travels.

Rain Harvest Home is located in the middle of a Mexican natural reserve, and the entire project aims at being a comfortable retreat for people while fitting lightly and respectfully in its surroundings.

Outdoor view of the house.
Credit: JSa Arquitectura, Robert Hutchison Architecture

all-year outdoor life

The entire house is raised on a platform where interiors and outdoor spaces flow seamlessly. Just a third of the total area is dedicated to the interiors. The rest is outdoor space, that runs along all sides of the house. Covered outdoor space to be precise, which allows enjoying the mild local climate all year round regardless of the weather conditions.

Indoors, all rooms receive plenty of natural light, thanks to full-height windows and ceiling skylights for more internal areas.
Worth mentioning is how the architects describe the experience of the space in this house. They use the word cabane, which embodies “the human dimension of the home: you go to sleep in small-scale, comfortable and inviting spaces. Then, the home opens up, allowing you to enjoy the surroundings.”

A description that brings to mind the biophilic alternation of prospect and refuge, the importance of designed spaces in fostering and inspiring more outdoor time, and the notion of introspective spaces.

genuine local materials

Materials give soul to a design, making spaces authentic to their surroundings. This house uses local stone, warm-toned wood for the interiors and black-tinted wood for the outdoor cladding; a choice that the architects motivate with a very biophilic reason: “black tinted wood helps homes retreat in themselves to then take root in the landscape.” - cit. Javier Sánchez- JSa Arquitectura

The outdoor patio.
Credit: JSa Arquitectura, Robert Hutchison Architecture
Indoor living room, with warm wood cladding.
Credit: JSa Arquitectura, Robert Hutchison Architecture

sustainable connection to water

The home is entirely off-the-grid. It’s powered by solar panels and is the quintessential example of responsible water use and connection to water. Rainwater is collected and treated on site to then serve the house’s needs, and a circular bathhouse offers four different activities for people to connect with the water element: hot bath, sauna, steam shower, and washroom.

As a whole, this home promotes sustainable use of water in an area where this is an increasingly scarce resource. It also offers water-based experiences for people, showing how sustainability and biophilic design do in fact go hand-in-hand.

This house embodies a very biophilic approach to design, one that’s directed to people as much as it is directed to nature. It is a comfortable and inspiring retreat to rediscover a slow-paced lifestyle that’s tightly connected to nature and its elements, the same elements that directly serve the house’s needs. But it’s also a space that respects its natural surroundings disguising itself in the vegetation and fitting into the local climate with care and consideration.

Design: JSa Arquitectura, Robert Hutchison Architecture
Photography: Cesar Bejar, Benedikt Fahlbusch, Alberto Kritzler, Laia Rius Solá, Rafael Gamo, Jaime Navarro

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