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House Talk

No. 19 - September, 2004

"Mexican Architecture Reminiscent of East Bay Homes"
A talk with Paco Link

Through the years Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine have visited many beautiful homes in the East Bay with exceptional architectural traits. A few homes built after the Oakland firestorm of 1991 have reflected the unique style of well-known Mexican architect, Luis Barragan. His placement and juxtaposition of walls creates striking exteriors and are equally exciting when seen inside one of his houses. Color is used on the wall surfaces for special effect or to express certain moods. A wall might be painted blue to resemble the sky or yellow to give an effect of sunlight. Indeed, his homes are sumptuous in color and texture. 

Recently, Sheila Sabine had the privilege of visiting a modern
cubist home heavily influenced by Barragan in Tepoztlán, Morelos.
The town is a magical hideaway, nestled in a broad, lush valley sixty miles south of Mexico City. It has always been a haven for artistic and spiritual pilgrims from around the world. It is surrounded by hills and massive outcroppings of beautiful rock formations, which are some of the oldest in Mexico and are associated with many ancient native legends. Sergio Palleroni, an American architect, and his brother Paco Link, a multimedia producer, decided to build a country home on the outskirts of this mountain paradise. 

Following many of Barragan’s principles, they created a fantastic 5,500 sq. ft. modern cubist home. The house is actually situated on pre-Hispanic terraces so that the construction of the house was deeply interwoven with the local topography, which was respected and enhanced. Paco describes it as a low impact house designed to utilize as few outside resources as possible. Natural hewn lava rock was used for the interior walls of what is referred to as “the great room”- which is 75 feet long and 21 feet wide. Here one finds the kitchen, living room and dining room comfortably and spaciously arranged with 13 doorways to access lower and upper patios. The beamed ceilings and the windows are artfully placed to capture all the views of the rich and lush nature that surrounds the house, and the polished concrete floors are another use of natural material. The exterior paint was made from the local earth and mixed with nopal juice (prickly pear), giving it a light rich terracotta color. 

The house is placed on the site facing south to maximize the most solar exposure for natural heating. The placement is oriented for the fall equinox so that on September 21st, the light goes from one end of the house to the other. All the water from the rainy season is filtered and stored in a giant cistern for bathing and irrigation. The gray water is also filtered and used to water plants during the dry season. There are extensive and abundant gardens where the owners have planted coffee, local corn, squash, beans, agave plants, avocado, plum and many other trees and blooming flowers. They have learned everything from the local people who have a deep and practical knowledge when it comes to planting and gardening. The house has astounding views of the mountains from all directions, adding to the ancient and inspiring quality of the environment. 

The spirit of Luis Barragan continues in the East Bay and south of the border. This great architect said “in alarming proportions the following words have disappeared from architectural publications: beauty, inspiration, magic, serenity, mystery, silence and astonishment. All of these qualities have found a loving home in my soul.”

For further information regarding Casa Lima Real you may contact Paco Link at el@pacolink.com.

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For further information or questions for our House Talk column, 
please contact Glass/Sabine by email:  Sheila@GlassSabine.com
or call us at 510-326-5055.

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