architect luis carbonell has realized a country house set amid an avocado orchard in the south of the state of mexicoprior to the intervention, the site was occupied by a couple of independent structures, built in different periods of time as disaggregated pieces: an adobe hut, hosting two small rooms, and a masonry body housing a living room, a small kitchen, and an adjacent bathroom. the aim of the project is to produce a third new structure that complements and bridges all pre-existing ones to work as a whole integrated dwelling.

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all images by camila cossio



the new structure by luis carbonell envelops the original volumes, emulating their independent character, and leans on top of them, spanning and creating a new entryway as a private threshold. the tiny rooms are reconditioned and redistributed towards the new hallway, serving them with a new integrated bathroom and attaching them to the pivoting anchor of the project, the main room. this new entity, constructed with materials such as stone, adobe, and concrete seems to relate with its predecessors, following their normative characteristics.

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furthermore, the new intervention responds harmoniously to the typological criteria of the traditional local dwelling, encompassed by robust walls under an inclined shed roof. and although it submits itself to the dominance of the original formations, it doesn’t completely give in, provoking alterations with its new morphology. it generates extensions, continuities, and subtractions, essentially creating a new architectural personality.

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for instance, the concrete slabs of the project exceed the limits of the restraining walls, even breaking them. one of them acts as a stripe that links contiguous spaces, blurring or completely erasing interior boundaries. on one end it functions as a sink in the bathroom, then on its horizontal spread, it may be used as a desk or a shelf, and then it turns into a chimney at the end of the space. but the element doesn’t exhaust itself; it continues on the other side as an outdoor shelf connected to a lower bench which then again retracts in the opposite direction, turning into a garden level that filters the view of the window that sits on top of the previous slab.

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during the intervention, luis carbonell invited pablo kobayashi to devise other ways to contain, conduct and interrupt the flow of vital elements of the house. this creative collaboration led to the realization of a distinct sink and chimney design. the pieces rise from the reassessment of two banal and opposing rituals; placed across extremes of the concrete slab that simultaneously joins and split rooms, they act as controllers of both elements, water, and fire.

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the vessels stand on a pedestal-like foot that floats from an underground tray, as they lay on the concrete slab on precision brass pins inserted on the negative cutout made by hand demolition from the horizontal surface. water is guided through concrete grooves leading to a natural sequenced fall on the interior of one side as in the other the receptacle holds the ashes of the fire. the water fills an underground stone tray and the fire exhumes the smoke into a metal chimney that hangs from the roofs.

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project info:


name: habitáculo san juan
architect: luis carbonell
collaborators: pablo kobayashi, offelia estudio, makaua, maestro jesús rodríguez



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom