taller paralelo builds intimate wooden retreat at the heart of mexican forest

taller paralelo builds intimate wooden retreat at the heart of mexican forest


casa el pinar, a sustainable retreat hidden in a forest


surrounded by vegetation, casa el pinar by taller paralelo emerges among the trees of a plot still taken over by the forest in valle de bravo, mexico. with its clean lines and limited material palette, this project is an understated sustainable wooden retreat that invites reflection and contemplation. 


clearly marked by the natural context from the beginning, the architects prioritized creating a project in harmony with the environment and, at the same time, forceful in its language. the rugged topography led to a sectional design that respects the location of the pre-existing trees and takes maximum advantage of the slope all while avoiding unnecessary excavation and leveling of the terrain. 

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 1
all images © rafael gamo



a simple and authentic material palette 


the team at taller paralelo kept the architectural footprint to a minimum, allowing the forest itself to take center stage. in consistency with the concept of the house, simple materials and exposed finishes were chosen by mixing concrete, steel, local stone and structural pine wood. ‘the authenticity of the materials, both inside and outside, is what imbues the spaces with aesthetic value,’ explains the studio. that said, FSC-certified, laminated pine wood was used for the structure. to ensure good performance and durability of the wood, a simple maintenance with oil every two years is enough. 


combining those materials together, the final color palette throughout the house communicates a neutral and calming ambiance. polished concrete on the floor, fair-faced concrete on certain walls, and pine wood along with black joints and black glasswork homologate the aesthetics of the space. meanwhile, IPR beams compose the roof and form a large frame with a slope that responds both to the heavy rains and the desire to capture sun rays. this large frame supports a high-density expanded polystyrene panel system that is light enough for the roof and provides thermal and acoustic insulation inside the house.

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 8
the private area houses three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom



the base of casa el pinar, located almost at street level, was conceived as a foundation box for habitable use. covered with local stone, it houses all the service areas, including storage, cisterns, and laundry rooms. above this volume rises a blind wall of hardened concrete, the protagonist of the main façade and the determining axis of the project. the wall is closed to the north to protect the interior from the strong winds and cold climate of valle de bravo, while its texture and strong presence set the tone for the indoor-outdoor aesthetics.


a stone staircase, integrated and camouflaged into the stone wall of the basement, clearly marks the access along one of its sides to the main door. this level consists of a south-facing bay, the largest volume in the project, that houses most of the programs.

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 10
simple materials and exposed finishes were chosen: concrete, steel, local stone and structural pine wood



creating spatial flow and framing forest views on all façades


the south façade is made up of floor-to-ceiling windows and black aluminum frames, guaranteeing natural lighting and capturing maximum sunlight to counteract the cold climate. the constant visual connection with the garden and the forest contribute to the tranquil atmosphere of the space.


additionally, a central courtyard with a glass-enclosed tree fills the atrium with natural light and physically separates the two main public areas all while maintaining a visual link through the glass to create a sense of flowing spaciousness. together, the south-facing windows and central courtyard conspire to present a space that is light and cool to maintain a comfortable temperature.


the hallway on the northern façade, in addition to serving as a thermal buffer, connects the living room to the private areas composed of three bedrooms with their own bathrooms and views of the forest. this hallway overhangs the access stairs and shares the same concrete finish as the exterior wall on the main façade and creates the sensation of a floating volume, as seen from the street.


at the other end of the volume, a concrete bungalow connects to the bay through the covered terrace featuring a jacuzzi. this bungalow includes a TV room and an additional bedroom with its own bathroom, responding to the possible need of certain visitors for more privacy. like the main bungalow, this bedroom opens to the south and links the interior to the exterior. as a grand finale, the trunks of the pine trees frame the forest views from any point in the house – making the connection with nature equally evident in all the spaces where even a glimpse of greenery can be caught. 

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 11
the concrete bungalow hosts an additional private bedroom

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 5
the whole south façade opens towards the forest, soaking in as much natural light as possible

casa el pinar a sustainable wood house hidden in the forest 7
the interiors are equipped with proper insulation against the cold climate in the region




project info:


name: casa el pinar
architecture: taller paralelo / mikel merodio and césar flores

location: rancho avándaro, valle de bravo, mexico

photography: rafael gamo



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: lea zeitoun | designboom

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