The first thing you see when approaching Casa Volta are three brick vaults floating in the middle of the dense vegetation of the Oaxacan coast. Perhaps a mirage caused by the profuse and humid heat of the area. Then, following a small path, one plunges into the green and the vaults disappear. The biggest surprise is when, suddenly, a small clearing opens and a small bench appears next to a long pool of water flanked on both sides by porticoes with rectangular columns that are reflected in it. It gives the impression of having arrived at an abandoned classical temple.
The house has a rigorous, Kahnian order, it is a rectangular plan subdivided into six also rectangular spaces, where three patios and three spaces roofed by vaults alternate. In two of them, the rooms are located with their bathrooms that are opened and closed by means of wooden doors and reed; the third, completely open, are the living, eating and cooking areas. And at the center, the water, as a constant presence, as a reminder of the proximity of the sea, which although it cannot be seen from here, is only 100 meters away.
An economic and practical circumstance was what determined the materiality of the house. Nearby is the Casa Wabi Foundation, where clay is baked and where there was the availability of obtaining many pieces of waste brick, hence the idea of making reuse brick vaults mounted on a concrete structure. A simple construction method that would allow to meet the tight deadlines that were requested. On the other hand, the vaults, together with the reed lattices, make the wind flow through the interior spaces all the time, while the water cools the exterior, in a climate that is too hot and humid. All this creates an atmosphere of warmth and freshness at the same time.
Casa Volta is a demonstration that with a few well-thought-out elements, an adequate relationship with the climate and nature, can be achieved. The constructive order does not contradict the apparent chaos that surrounds it, on the contrary, it complements and blends itself; it is also a reminder that simplicity is always stylish. More than a house, this construction is a small haven of civilization in the middle of the jungle, the cabin where Heidegger would have taken refuge if he had had a more tropical vocation.
Juan Carlos Cano