Ederlezi, for many people in the Balkans, is a celebration marking the beginning of spring. In Monterrey, Mexico, this ode to the return of warm weather – and the season of awakening – inspired a red-toned residence wrapped in a concrete facade, evoking a fabric with a zig zag trim, that shrouds the home protectively. Designed by Práctica Arquitectura, a firm founded by architect David Martínez in 2017, Ederlezi House is embedded in a narrow lot urban lot, only five metres wide, yet has panoramic views of the hills, mountains and ridges that envelope the city.

Aerial view of Ederlezi House in Monterrey Mexico

The site’s dual conditions of density and expansiveness is reflected in the design of the 120-square-metre house, which knits tightly into the historic San Pedro Garza neighbourhood yet opens up to its inhabitants once they step foot inside.

Streetside facade of Ederlezi House in Monterrey Mexico

Created for a couple that loves to travel, Ederlezi House comprises two volumes in one expressive package that combines European and vernacular influences. “This design,” the architects say, “is inspired by characteristic ziggurat elements of the Balkan region and proportions of the endemic architecture of northeastern Mexico.” The volume that faces the street contains the entrance hall and garage as well as a double-height guest room with a mezzanine and a rooftop terrace. At street level, a richer, terracotta shade of its dusty red concrete facade visually aligns the home with the neighbours; deep-set openings – the second-floor window spilling greenery – embody a welcoming yet recessed character.

View of courtyard from first volume of Ederlezi House in Monterrey Mexico

The second volume, at the rear, contains the core program: a living room, a dining room and a kitchen that opens onto a blue patio at the edge of the property and – on the top level – the main bedroom with a landscaped terrace. The eclectic, lived-in furniture is from the couple’s original home. “They own numerous artisanal pieces from various parts of the world, acquired during their travels and preserved as memories of other cultures,” the architects explain.

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Between the home’s two shells is a courtyard that forms the actual and symbolic heart of the residence. Paved in tezontle stone, this en-plein-air sanctuary exudes a character of dynamism. From here, the indoors and outdoors merge in exuberant ways: plant life bursts forth and across the facades, solid wood blocks protrude from the exterior walls to form benches, a tiled entrance to the rear unit hints at the circulation route that weaves between the two buildings and among its tiered spaces, the zig zag frame of its glazing animates the corridor connecting the two volumes. 

Tiled interior circulation route of Ederlezi House
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“Given its location in a high-traffic and very active area, we chose a sober exterior design,” the architects explain. “Nevertheless, the facade reflects in parallel what happens inside the house. The external expression is a direct reflection of what takes place inside.” (The “external expression” refers to the zig zagging screen along the side wall that connects the two volumes.) “The vertical gap indicates the circulation system that runs through the entire house, and the play of volumes arises from the livable and transit spaces. The zigzag design corresponds to the staircase leading to the rooftop, culminating the project experience.”

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Living room of Ederlezi house

Throughout, the palette amplifies a sense of warmth. “We have always conceived the house as an earthy element, integrated into the surrounding landscape,” the architects explain. “The main construction components are walls and concrete slabs, used in a traditional manner. In the end, we applied an artisanal paste to achieve the desired tones. At all times, the house displays a reddish hue that varies in intensity depending on the function of the space. However, there is a homogeneous spirit in the project; it is perceived as a single organism.”

The mountains surrounding Ederlezi House

As an experiment in residential design, Ederlezi House succeeds in showing how the courtyard typology can adapt to even the tightest parameters.

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