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Smarter Living

Anna Zhong 2018-04-11 09:35

God is in the details; this idea is clearly seen in the design here. The seemingly ordinary appearance hides the marvellous and meticulous attention to detail, and much of this article is dedicated to the appreciation of it.

With a total area of 465 ㎡, the “Cima House” is located in Chihuahua, Mexico. The owner of the residence had an interesting idea: he wanted the building with a low-key but elegant appearance, and at the same time be very modern and intelligent inside. However, to reach the definition of “intelligent”, it should not be the mere gathering of all sorts of appliances, but the concept and design featured through energy saving as a whole.

To deliver on the concept proposed by the owner, architecture firm Garza Iga Arquitectos created a different style of design from ordinary contemporary modern architecture, while also discovering the technologies and ideologies of the future residence – the sustainable smart home.

“Starting from the owner’s standpoint, we decided to use the basic material – concrete, to be the core material of the whole building,” said the designer. In his eyes, the simpler the material, the more refined it could be as it fits well in all situations. However, the designer also needs to think over these questions: how to match the right materials with the concrete, and how to give the proper value to the concrete throughout.

Built with concrete, steel beams and wood, it resembles the classic architecture styles of Louis Kahn and Mies van der Rohe. The concrete structure infuses the indoor space with simplicity, natural texture, and tactility. Combined with wood, black iron, and exposed pipes, the residence presents a type of modern and neat industrialism.


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At the same time, it incorporates a range of technological systems not available in their time. Water collection, treatment and reuse, and solar power technology are only some of those mentioned systems. Most of the power of the house comes from the large-scale solar panels and batteries on the roof, while the water collection, treatment and reuse system makes the water recycle of the whole house possible.

Moreover, the green plant wall on the balcony also effectively helps to maintain the indoor temperature. Meantime the water for the plants is obtained through the recycling system and afterwards the used water goes back again to the system.

The smart part of the equation is not only the fact that you can control your lighting to create different moods or lower the temperature of the baby's bedroom from your phone while on a business trip. But more importantly it responds to its environment, complementing the sustainable systems to make them more efficient, for example: the sprinklers won’t water the garden if it rained the night before.

Another unique aspect we find in the house are the façade designs. The front says privacy and security, looking more like a bunker than a residence. Aside from some clues on the ground, you can’t really read where the entrance is, nor figure out if there are any windows at all.


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The south facing façade is able to switch on and off the wood plates through remote control. In this way the residence could shift between covered, semi-open and fully open appearances. All the wood plates are coined together. If there were no clue on the steps, visitors would probably never find the entrance to the house at all by themselves. The north façade on the other hand is completely transparent, since the owner wanted to exploit the panoramic views and make them part of the interior.

It’s at the owner’s wish to shift the wood plates between covered, semi-open and fully open. Upon passing the main entrance, the space quickly opens up to you as you realize the kitchen, dining and living rooms are all encased in a single open space, even the city itself seems part of the same place you are in, thanks to the huge windows mentioned above. Then windows are another sustainable system the design embraces; double UV-light resistant glass layers with argon gas in between, they keep Chihuahua’s harsh weather at bay.


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The open balcony provides a comfortable resting area for the owner. While the cloakroom is featured with a spacious area to fully meet the demands of the owner.


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