Villa Arrebol: Home for a Mexico City family in love with the outskirts of Mérida

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Veronica Garibay
Veronica Garibay
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

In the upper corner of the city, in the aptly named Norte Mérida, a retirement home for a Mexico City family is in its final stages.

The owners of the home came to the state looking for a home with a classic Yucatecan feel, which gave them a sense of serenity and comfort — just as if they were on vacation.

Patio and pool in Villa Arrebol. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

For some reason, and unlike most newcomers looking to live in Mérida, they chose to build their home outside of the Centro.

The project was developed by Más que Arquitectura Estudio. Architect Ángel Sánchez says they were inspired by the family’s desire for rest and tranquility.

Open spaces and green areas of the project. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

“We wanted to translate hotel life into the story of the home,” says Ángel. “What could we replicate to make you feel on vacation? We realized that hotel areas are usually separated by open spaces. You have to walk outside and you see trees, nature, the context around the project. That’s what we wanted to do.”

Aerial view of Villa Arrebol. The two separate modules comprise the common areas, to the left, and the master bedroom, to the right, next to the pool. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

Together with the clients, they chose to separate the spaces of the villa. The project consists of modules, one for the master bedroom — complete with its own study, bathroom, and walk-in closet. The rest area is far from the kitchen, living room and dining room, the most conventional house, separated via exterior spaces. This creates a trail you have to walk to discover the home. 

Common areas in Chukum finishings, for the typical Yucatecan feel. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

Ángel is thankful that his clients trusted this atypical proposal.

“Whenever you have an unconventional idea, you need a client willing to take a chance. This doesn’t happen all the time. You have to believe in adventure, and they did. We chose to live this one as a team, and became pleasantly surprised along the way.”

Villa Arrebol sits in an irregular plot of land. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

The house’s land is an irregular polygon, which meant adapting to its particular shape as well as the existing nature of the land. 

“We chose to take advantage of the coolness of the trees. It makes for a more enjoyable patio. By gathering these trees around a courtyard, it becomes somewhat of a Yucatecan jungle. And we’re also creating green views for every indoor space of the home.”

Green spaces are abundant throughout the project, both for enjoyment outside, but also providing a green touch in the interior of the home. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

The house changes from morning to afternoon. Shadows and illumination change, which helps to highlight different areas at different times of day.

Kitchen area, in a separate module from the master bedroom. Green areas become the transition spaces between modules. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

“The flexibility of the rooms generates an interesting experience,” says Ángel. “We were inspired by the dynamics of the hacienda, where you have beautiful spaces, but none is fixated to be only what it is. You can eat somewhere outside the dining room, read somewhere outside the living room. Spaces can be occupied depending on what you’re looking for — coolness, sun, shade, and this home provides all those options.”

The house reveals itself as a surprising experience from the moment you reach the entrance. 

Entrance and facade of Villa Arrebol. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

“The facade is located south, so we couldn’t add any windows — it would be too much heat. You arrive at this seemingly closed, dark space, but are welcomed by a double-height ceiling and an interior garden. We’re exchanging the warmth of the sun for a cool, green space.”

Ángel says he’s proud that they created a project that’s cohesive with the land in which it sits.  

Detail of exterior areas. Pops of natural color highlight the nature of the land against the beige building. Photo: Manolo R. Solís

“What exists on the ground before you arrive is the most important thing. It requires you to be respectful and creative. How do you develop a particular identity for this project whilst maintaining its surroundings? I think this home answers that question.”

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