A Glass House in the Mexican Desert


At dusk, the residence seems as a phosphorescent box, its mirrored panels reflecting the gentle of the sky and the ocher hues of the mountainside that, as if a mirage, will before long vanish as night falls. Casa Etérea — perched higher than San Miguel de Allende on the rugged slopes of the extinct Palo Huérfano volcano, part of the higher Los Picachos mountain range of Central Mexico — is the two an architectural showpiece and a web page-particular art installation, one built to inspire a perception of awe. A feat of sustainable engineering that makes use of solar electricity and gathered rainwater, the 800-sq.-foot dwelling has a glass exterior (with a striped UV-reflective coating) that is bird-friendly — even as it generates the outcome of a seemingly infinite landscape.

Prashant Ashoka, the operator and designer of Casa Etérea, 1st arrived up with the thought for a glass property in the course of his first journey to the country, in the summer of 2017. He had been doing the job in Singapore as a writer and photographer, but was compelled to go to San Miguel de Allende for its magnificence and its name as a spot for artists — in the ’60s, for example, website visitors included well known Defeat-era figures these types of as Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. The facade, he suggests, is at after transitional and symbolic: “It’s a metamorphosis, not as opposed to my transformational journey to Mexico.” Decided to develop himself a secluded writer’s retreat, Ashoka ultimately procured two acres of wilderness — situated just 20 minutes from San Miguel de Allende’s downtown — with no drinking water strains or electrical power. “I understood that it was my time to build anything of my possess,” he claims. “And I’d often fantasized about escaping into nature, living on a mountain or a seaside. But I made a decision to acquire a romantic notion a lot of folks flirt with and make it my truth.”

When conceiving of his retreat, Ashoka referred to the operate of the 20th-century Mexican architect Luis Barragán and his longtime collaborator, the sculptor-painter Mathias Goéritz — in certain, their explorations of form, light and shadow. Although Barragán most well-liked to perform with cubes, Ashoka made the decision to angle the two major factors of his retreat at 120 levels, mimicking his most loved attribute of the mountainous landscape: a V-shaped ravine — visible from the house’s back backyard garden — that harbors a hurrying waterfall all through the rainy year. Without the need of employing an architectural business and in its place relying on nearby engineers and carpenters, Ashoka constructed the bones of the house from volcanic rock gathered from the mountainside. “The concept was to be wholly isolated and with no distraction other than the wild that surrounds you,” claims Ashoka. All in all, it took almost 3 yrs to complete.

Inside of, the dwelling attracts inspiration from around and considerably, blending Mexican craft tradition with Ashoka’s Southeast Asian roots. He collaborated with the community home furnishings studio Namuh to accent the interiors with products these as the twin Balinese jute lamps hanging earlier mentioned possibly side of the mattress and the vintage, earthen porcelain vase from Shanghai on the bedside table. The kitchen area, meanwhile, has an open layout that privileges elemental elements — there are uncovered picket ceiling beams, partitions completed in concrete and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that frame vistas of towering cliffs. The porcelain countertops are offset by blackened walnut cupboards and topped with antique jade vases (which at the time served as grain containers for Chinese sailors) from Sabah, on the Malaysian island of Borneo. Walnut bar stools rest on a cream and teal Turkish Oushak rug. And on an adjacent wall hangs an arresting 2004 black-and-white photograph of Mexican charros, or cowboys, by the documentary photographer Nicole Franco.

In the dwelling location, the eye is drawn towards a gray Romanian buffalo leather sofa and a reclaimed oak table put above an Indian jute rug built in Jaipur. A crimson brick fireplace separates the area from the sleeping space, which is more accented by discovered objects including a brass telescope from the vintage industry La Lagunilla in Mexico City, oversize woven baskets procured from the Shaanxi Province of China and charcoal-coloured Tibetan wool rugs.

While Casa Etérea has a lot of amazing characteristics, Ashoka says that “the property was born from the rest room,” which functions the structure’s only inside wall, a brick and concrete partition livened with flecks of rose gold. Behind it sits a huge handmade copper bathtub with a sloped again and hammered finish that Ashoka sketched and then commissioned artisans in Santa Clara de Cobre in the condition of Michoacán to make.

It’s uncomplicated to slow down right here, to observe the refined information of the all-natural entire world. Ashoka loves to do just that when he leaves his major house in downtown San Miguel de Allende for Casa Etérea. He enjoys hiking from the mountainside to the caldera of the volcano, a 3-hour trek that normally takes him through riverbeds, oak forests and wide highland plains. “When the solar rises,” he suggests, “it paints the rocks at the best of the mountain in a pink hue. There’s so much splendor listed here, primarily the wildlife.” He has noticed a assortment of animals, from mountain lions and bobcats to pink-tailed hawks and woodpeckers. He’s also develop into fond of a area gecko who likes to sunbathe on the deck in the vicinity of the house’s out of doors dipping pool, surrounded by desert cactuses and bushes of rosemary and lavender. In other places on the house, Ashoka planted fruiting olive, pomegranate and citrus trees.

Commencing following month, Casa Etérea will be offered to lease by using the property’s Instagram. Guests can take pleasure in bespoke adventures led by citizens of the local Alcocer community that may possibly include things like horseback riding with Ashoka’s neighbor, a cattle herder, or a guided hike with a botanist. But most of all, Ashoka hopes readers will consider the time to marvel at the tranquil landscape. “There’s a little something so effective about remote dwellings,” he states. “They have the electrical power to flip you inward.”





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