What if your only connection to nature was a view through a 20-story window?
Mexico City-based firm Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados (PPAA) believes that today’s densely developed urban and suburban areas have lost a deeply needed connection to nature, resulting in a lack of quality, attainable, human-centered housing.
Since the days of caves and mud dwellings, humans built their homes in response to their environment. This building process created functional, sustainable homes using available materials.
While primitive in construction methods, they were profound in theory: humans are not meant to conquer nature, they are meant to coexist with it.
With their structure Infinite Openness, PPAA presents architectural elements they believe should be included in every home:
Within the context of architecture and building homes, the answer was clear: the architecture of today’s urban and suburban areas has lost its roots. Homes and building materials no longer respond to or reflect their environments and inhabitants have less opportunity to be immersed in nature.
Environmental context refers to a literal understanding of the place where a home is located. Is it in the mountains or in the desert? Does it deal with torrential rains or accumulations of snow? Is there an abundance of wood or stone available on or near the site? The answers to these questions inevitably inspire the design and the function of a home, placing it seamlessly into the landscape.
PPAA’s research revealed four main categories of building typology: earthen houses, block construction, framing systems, and inflatables. To make the home of the future as flexible as possible, PPAA decided to work with framing systems. This allows a variety of easily sourced materials to be used – from wood and bamboo to steel and aluminum.
Creating a visceral connection to nature is not just a matter of adding a pretty landscape. PPAA asked: how can a house literally invite nature inside? The answer to this question can be found in human scaled proportions that complement the outdoor environment, the infiltration of natural light into interior spaces, and placing a high-value on defined, private exterior areas.
The final question to investigate was how much space does a person really need? Seeking to maximize interior space without compromising its function or aesthetics, PPAA completed a series of spatial studies evaluating the usefulness of flat screen technology. For example, flattening the volume of appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers could lead to smaller homes that minimize disturbance to the surrounding land.
Translucent panels simultaneously provide shelter from and a connection to the natural world. They allow natural light to filter into the structure and create direct views to the environment around the home. Aluminum framing allows for modular construction and the expansion of additional units.
Pérez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados defines itself as an independent professional practice concentrated on architecture, art, urban, and interior design.
Founded by Pablo Perez Palacios in 2018, they believe architecture to be an open medium and message, one that is constantly put to the test by multiple relationships to its surroundings.
PPAA follows an inclination for nature, where the weather, soil, textures, and other factors create a sensorial atmosphere that is captured in their work. They strive for an architecture of ideas over forms and believe that for architecture to be capable of conveying an idea or intention, it must speak to the essence of the individual(s) it is meant to serve.
Although built at Crystal Bridges as a single structure, PPAA’s Infinite Openness can be scaled to create a series of linked houses that create meaningful connections between people, creating a renewed sense of community not attainable in today’s urban landscape.
Additionally, by analyzing the spatial needs of individuals, PPAA hopes to continue the conversation around human-centered housing, offering a unique way to think about the home of the future.
Explore the Architecture at Home virtual reality tour. Walk along the trail, view each structure in-depth, and read interpretation labels. Simply click the play button to get started.
In the lower left hand corner, click the second icon for "View Floor Plan" to see a map of the structures. Click the first icon to return to exploring the 3D space.