Casa Monte, or Hillock House, is not a house, really. Nestled somewhere between mountains and the Pacific, amid cacti and low shrubs, it’s more of an experiment in seclusion. A sandy road gives way to a winding path, enveloped by greenery that encroaches upon it on all sides. Above, in the distance, an ochre-hued monolith appears to promise refuge from the elements. Then, it delivers.
There is no definitive entrance to the structure, no boundary between interior and exterior on its ground floor. High walls and columns rise to form a portico where breeze cuts through the humid heat. Every surface here is made of earth-tinted concrete — smooth slabs and blocks that assemble a space of time suspended. What might one do in such starkly rendered isolation? Prepare a simple meal over the kitchenette; lay atop the daybed; dip into the bottle-green waters of a narrow plunge pool. This slice of domesticated space amid an otherwise untouched landscape at once suggests civilizations past and utopian gestures of futurity, like an ancient temple activated through sleek fixtures of brass and steel.
Half-hidden behind a wall are the stairs that spiral up to the bedroom, also austere though made warmer by the abundance of wood on the floor and window frames. A richly textured terrace offers a full view of the ocean to wake up to, a space to bathe, and a thin ladder that leads to the roof, which completes the experience after nightfall. If the project feels born of the earth and human history, here it ends by connecting the user to the ether.