In Mexico, a House That Returns to the Well

This article is part of our Design special section about water as a source of creativity.

Years of abnormally low rainfall, higher-than-normal temperatures and aging infrastructure have led to a dangerously low water supply for Mexico City. The issue isn’t a new one for the Mexican capital — in 2014, it was ranked as the third most water-stressed of more than 150 of the planet’s largest cities. Now, the metropolis faces a water crisis so severe that local authorities recently began imposing rations.

For Javier Sánchez, a low-slung earthen house just west of Mexico City, designed by his architectural firm JSa, reflects an obvious way out of the predicament.

The wide overhangs that shelter the house from rain allowed for several covered outdoor spaces, including an outdoor dining area where Mr. Olvera entertains family and friends.Credit…Fabian Martinez, via JSa

“This house is a laboratory because it allows people to visualize the possibility of going back to certain solutions that were implemented many years before us,” he said on a recent video call. “There was an ancient technology around water, but it was easier to put everything in pipes and forget about it.”

Chief among those technologies is the simple act of harvesting rainwater, which falls robustly in the region in summer. The house, which is situated within a 200-hectare (494-acre) nature reserve in the mountains of Valle de Bravo near the municipality of Temascaltepec, is connected to a system that captures, stores and recycles rainwater, making the property completely self-sufficient, in terms of water.

The home’s interior, featuring beams and trusses made from pine wood sourced from northern Mexico.Credit…Fabian Martinez, via JSa
Back to top button