Home Tour | The Hill in Front of the Glen by HW Studio Arquitectos

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    We go deep into the forest-covered mountains of Morelia, Mexico, to explore a tranquil home housed within an impressive cave-like structure.

    HW Studio Arquitectos’ most recent residential project exemplifies biophilic design, manifesting as a concealed shelter crafted to both engage with and provide protection from the landscape. Concrete, steel and wood were chosen to reference the forest, fulfilling the client’s wish to “preserve the rough and primitive atmosphere of being in the mountains.” At its essence, this home revolves around the opportunity to truly connect with nature – an experience that can be attained only by recognising its significance and not underestimating it.

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    The open kitchen-living-dining area is lined on one side by floor-to-ceiling glass windows, leaving it completely exposed to the forest. Custom furniture pieces were designed to tie in with the home’s surrounds, including a dining table made of steel and salvaged wood. 

    HW Studio Arquitectos intended to create a visual continuity between the architecture and site, which they have achieved by mirroring the shape of the hills. ‘The Hill in Front of the Glen’, as it’s aptly named, assumes a low-lying, sloped shape, effectively forming a new hill among a group of already existing ones. The choice to clad the exterior in concrete was made to emphasise the act of the home ‘emerging’ from the landscape. 

    The narrow path leading up to the entrance, flanked on either side by towering concrete walls, was deliberately fashioned to encourage solitude. While making the journey down the corridor, visitors will encounter an old oak tree, the presence of which is marked by the distorted shape of one of the walls: a decision HW Studio Arquitectos’ founder Rogelio Vallejo Bores says was necessary to allow passage around it. “The gentle curve of the wall allows visitors to travel around the tree, so close in fact, that it is even possible to graze it,” he says.

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    At the end of the corridor lies a set of stone steps that lead down to a heavy steel door. Rogelio likens crossing this threshold to stepping into a cave; “It feels dark and cold, yet strangely very cosy,” he explains. Inside, a palette of grey concrete, the same as the exterior, and rich wood contrast with and echo the colours of the forest. “Crucially, the warm temperature of the wood balances out the cold temperature of the concrete,” Rogelio notes. These two materials are paired with steel accents that, with time, will develop an appearance like tree bark.

    For the layout, the public spaces on the left side of the house are completely exposed to the forest, while the private spaces on the right embrace a courtyard, providing seclusion without a sense of detachment from nature. The general feeling is that of being immersed in nature and, at the same time, shielded from it.

    While some architects design homes to simply occupy a plot of land, others, like HW Studio Arquitectos, craft homes that seamlessly integrate with and become an integral part of the land itself.

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    A bordering courtyard illuminates the private spaces.

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    The narrow path leading up to the entrance, flanked on either side by towering concrete walls, is anchored by an old oak tree.

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    A birds-eye-view of the home reveals its inconspicuousness, as well as the narrowness of the entryway.

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