Sin Nombre House & Gallery by Associates Architecture

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Sin Nombre House & Gallery by Associates Architecture

Sin Nombre House & Gallery by Associates Architecture

 

Everything is not what it seems in this monolithic two-storey house and gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, designed by Associates Architecture—an architectural office founded in Brescia in 2017, directed by the young Italian—South African duo Nicolò Galeazzi and Martina Salvaneschi.

The seemingly monolithic volume, introverted and wrapped completely in white plaster, sits on an existing stone plinth and opens up to a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the historic centre. It’s an exercise in architectural synthesis and spatial inventiveness that reveals a profoundly conscious, pragmatic approach in exploring and reinterpreting vernacular traditions.

Sited in a densely packed neighbourhood, along one of the 500-year-old colonial city’s narrow walkways, Sin Nombre is a direct reaction to its surroundings and context. Located in the Sierra Madre Mountains, the city is a carefully preserved heritage site, characterised by pastel washed buildings with colonial facades and stone colonnades lining the cobblestone streets.

 

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The architect’s concept stems from working with an apparently monolithic volume that in actuality accommodates a series of microcosms. The muted enclosure, not unlike those in the neighbourhood, is a boundary between the exterior and the interior and features private outdoor spaces of repose and tranquillity. The design draws from vernacular Mexican architecture, with hidden courtyards tucked inside many buildings, which has been reinterpreted with the architects’ distinctive minimal style and influenced by references to some of the masters, ranging from Luis Barragán and Mies van der Rohe.

Past the doorway, the living quarters spill out on the opposite side of the entrance facade to an enclosed triangular patio. Large floor-to-ceiling glass walls offer views to the outside garden, an homage to Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion.

A spiral staircase, sitting on an axis with the door, hints at the continuity between the urban journey and the internal path of the residence. To the right is the kitchen and to the left the dining area and living room. It marks the transition between the kitchen to the right and the dining area and living room to the left. Calm and peaceful the ground floor is awash with a neutral palette.

 

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On the second floor, the two bedrooms open to the light and air through their own enclosed private patios. While at the lower level we could still perceive the presence of the city outside, here we find ourselves abstracted from it, creating a very intimate and introverted space. “The two-story house is designed to celebrate intimacy while at the same time maximising exposure to natural light,” explains Architect Nicolò Galeazzi. “And it achieves this thanks to the patios and a rooftop terrace.”

The building unfolds as a succession of protected and comfortable interior spaces that demonstrate a fine, minimalist precision. The house is well crafted throughout, defined by a monochromatic colour scheme that evolves into mixed tones as the day and the seasons go by, with elegant light metal window frames made locally, just like the staircase. The muted enclosure—walls, floors and ceilings are all in soft whites—provides the perfect abstract background for the display of furniture pieces designed by the two owners. The main event though is the ascent to the rooftop terrace that affords unobstructed 360-degree views of the city. An unexpected surprise in an apparently inward-looking building yet one that puts people back in touch with their surroundings.

 

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