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Architecture: Light and ventilation

(September 2010) Morelia, Mexico is home to the Bosque Altozano Club and its clubhouse, a textbook example of building with gabions and one in which a major portion of the outside walls are comprised of these stone baskets.

One of the advantages of this building method was that the back-dirt from excavation work on the outcrop driveway could be recycled. Another advantage is that the gaps between the stones provide welcome natural ventilation for the interior of the building making the climate bearable even without air-conditioning.

Last but not least, the irregular chunks of rock lend a natural touch to the building. This was one of Parque Humano architect’s declared goals in planning the building.

Bridging the interior and the exterior was also the idea behind the eye-catching insection in the façade to the terrace, which magically attracts the beholder’s glance and directs it toward the interior of the ground-level structure.

The precision and regularity of the no-load-bearing walls is only visible at second glance. Both the elements of the gabion walls and those of the glass façade measure 90 cm x 60 cm.

Light and shadow provide a kaleidoscopic play when the sun’s rays penetrate the amber class of the façade and the framework construction projects a lattice pattern on the inner walls and floor. The gabions, too, play hide and seek of dark and light. Sufficient light is provided on the north side by a sort of old-fashioned factory shed roof.

Flooring and portions of the walls on the interior are clad in local travertine provided by Mármoles Arca.

The clubhouse is a multi-functional building within the complex, which includes a golf course. Morelia is the capital city of Michoacán and a tourist centre in its own right. The historic part of the city accommodated buildings from colonial times and is a heritage site.

Parque Humano

Mármoles Arca

Morelia

Photos: Paul Rivera