Bathed in the glorious Mexican sun on the lushly forested hills outside Oaxaca City, this Blakstad villa is a striking testament to time-honoured architectural methods. The stunning location affords a vivid mountain backdrop, while panoramic views stretch across the Oaxacan valley towards the vibrancy of the city in the distance on one side and the charming, tiled cupolas of the neighbouring village churches on the other. Commissioned as a family home, the design gracefully blends the traditional ethos of Mexico with the vibe of the Mediterranean.
The sloping plot necessitated a design containing multiple levels, which ultimately enhances the sweeping views and adds flexibility aimed at heightening comfort, no matter how many people happen to be in residence. The main house comprises three bedrooms, each designed to provide a sanctuary of peace and privacy, while an additional annexe houses two more bedrooms. As in all Blakstad designs, each room is oriented to capture the natural light, flooding the spaces with a warm glow.
The skilful incorporation of traditional building elements can be seen in the use of adobe, giving the inner and outer walls a pleasing texture, yet the whitewash is pure Ibiza. In the kitchen and parts of the living area, Catalan vaults arch gracefully overhead, with bricks in earthy hues curving inwards towards a round skylight. This ancient design has its roots in Roman-era architecture and can be seen in use across Catalonia as well as in Ibiza. They were introduced to North America by Valencian architect Rafael Guastavino in the late 1800s; their low profile and rustic colour add a toastiness to the space.
Design traditions from the Pueblo people of northern Mexico are evident, with parallels also drawn from the arid climates of North America’s southwest and the ancient structures of the Near East and the Phoenicians. These common connections are seen in the early building methods in Ibiza too, suggesting these unconnected groups found common solutions to the problems of living and building in an arid climate – or perhaps there was, at one point, a global architectural sixth sense.
True to the Ibizan and Mexican tradition, and a long part of the Blakstad methodology, locally sourced materials were used, reflecting a harmonious balance between the environment and the built form. This approach not only ensures that this home is rooted in its cultural landscape but also within its environmental surrounds, making it a celebration of heritage and a beacon of contemporary design. Here, in the foothills of Oaxaca, one finds a serene retreat that honours the earth from which it rises and the skies it reaches towards.