For this new house project, Los Terrenos (The Terrains), Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao conceived a trio of small buildings (just under 2,200 square feet in total), each of which serves a specific function and emphasizes one of the three main materials in the project’s palette.
The largest of these, a structure covered in its entirety with a mirrored facade that contains an open living/dining/ kitchen space, allowing it to disappear into the surrounding vegetation; its peak-roofed profile mirrors those of the mountains, and concealed doors open the interior to the terrace beyond.
Using just three materials might seem downright monastic to many, but it was a cornucopia to Bilbao. “We usually use just one material,” she explains, alluding to the strict budgets of many of her projects. “We typically don’t get to do that much experimentation.” Still, she and her colleagues made a little go a long way. The mirrored-glass exterior of the living structure not only reflects the surrounding woods when you’re outside, but it also creates what Bilbao calls an “outside reflection” of the interior—a mirror image of the space that you can see outside the building when you’re sitting in it.
The chevron-shaped clay-brick walls of the bedroom building reflect Bilbao’s idea that where you sleep should feel enclosed rather than exposed. But the architects use the basic form of the brick as a flexible language that also translates into the floors and the openwork screens in the living structure. Materials are used to sensual, elegant effect in both buildings, but are never precious; the smaller windows in the bedrooms, for instance, have shutters made of plywood.