Manzanillo, Columbia, Mexico
Name Arquitectos created a seaside villa in the coastal city of Manzanillo where both indoor and outdoor spaces, can work independently or together, as required. They managed to design a residence that takes advantage of all the natural elements of the area while creating a luxurious space for the owners and their visitors.
Casa MV project was short-listed for a 2021 International Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
In recent decades, Manzanillo has enjoyed sustained growth and increased recognition as a beach resort destination for domestic and international tourism. This port city sits mainly along two bays: Manzanillo and Santiago, separated by the Santiago peninsula.
The famous hotel ‘Las Hadas’ (where Bo Derek and Dudley Moore filmed ’10’, in 1979) and the high-end residential community ‘La Punta’ (‘the point,’ in geography jargon), where the MV House sits, are located on the peninsula.
The project has a privileged placement at the topmost part of the gated community, and its location provides it with unparalleled vistas of both bays. The west coast sunset became an additional factor in the decision to align the building’s axis. Thus, the views became a ‘leitmotif’ throughout the entire design phase.
The MV House was conceived to serve as the owners’ primary residence, unlike neighboring properties, which are vacation homes.
The design enables the efficient and versatile use of each area under multiple circumstances, from everyday family life to an array of entertaining functions.
The furniture and millwork’s design and production are bespoke for the project. Complimenting the architecture, an important commission of unique artwork was made, and other accessories were carefully selected as part of the scope. The anticipatory design program provides all necessary service areas and circulations to carry out the staff’s duties in an efficient, inconspicuous manner.
The MV House is accessed through a private road from which vehicles can drop off visitors at the house’s principal entry point, on the main level. The road then continues one level down, passing by the garage (which has its own pedestrian entryways into the building). Lastly, it allows the driver to loop around back to the main level or exit towards the street.
The house’s main access is via a loggia from which both the house’s social and private sections can be entered. The spacious corridor ends in the main terrace, at a sculptural group featuring a marble pendulum and Santiago bay as background. This artwork is visible from the opposite end of the loggia.
The building’s massing consists of several orthogonal volumes in different dimensions, made of concrete, and finished in white plaster, always with flat roofing. The one exception is the triangular vestibule leading to the private areas, boasting a large glass dome and two alabaster walls to provide ample natural light.
This space’s centerpiece is an elegant helicoid staircase, a striking feature in both shape and color, and communicates all three levels. Painted in gray, all exposed metallic elements—latticework, doorways, balconies—provide a necessary point of visual contrast with the cement’s white finishes.
Particularly worthy of note is the lattice screen designed to cover a large portion of the western facade. This element provides necessary shading to the main public interior areas while allowing uninterrupted enjoyment of the bay’s views from within.
The landscaping design calls for extensive greenery that will develop with time and the benign tropical weather. Within the garden, an infinity pool begins at a small pavilion that also houses a sitting area and which’s flat roof provides shade to the pool’s spa. As the architects mentioned previously, the house’s east-west orientation enables us to prioritize the ocean and sunset views throughout the project.
At the start of the design process, while performing the initial site assessment, the team discovered that unlike summertime, when the sun hides behind the Sierra Madre mountaintops, in winter, the sun sets over the ocean (at the opposite side of the Bay of Santiago).
The daylights/solar path study was key in determining the main axis’s final alignment according to the sun’s southernmost point, which occurs on December 21.
As a bit of playful architecture, the marble pendulum located towards the end of the access logia was designed to produce a ‘solar eclipse’ during the sundown of every winter solstice. Precisely at 6:43 pm (local time), the shadow created by the pendulum’s sphere is exactly parallel to the project’s axis. The idea was to gift the residents and visitors of the MV House a yearly occasion to celebrate the season, reminiscent of what occurs at historical sites such as Stonehenge or Chichen Itza.
Project: MV HOUSE
Architects: Name Arquitectos, S.C.
Contractor: Name Arquitectos
Photographers: Courtesy of the architects