Buckle up because photographer Rafael Gamo is taking us to Mexico for this week’s featured project. Situated smack dab in the middle of the Tlalpuente Forest of southern Mexico City, we’ll find the Tlalpuente house by PPAA Architects. According to PPAA, the house has no neighbors and was built to capitalize on the 360-degree view of the trees and landscape encircling it.
Rafael’s photographs are perfectly suited for this build, as they are crisp and tidy yet incredibly natural feeling. Here, you’ll find beautiful light that communicates a great sense of time and place, as well as compositions that show off how this structure interacts with its surroundings.
Kicking things off, an aerial view conveys to us just how deep in the woods the Tlalpuente house is. The backlighting rakes across the treetops and the roof of the house, giving a glowy warm feeling and a dash of depth. On the ground, lovely dappled light streams over the black facade, continuing to give us a good sense of place.
By framing up the house through the foliage, Rafael reminds of this home’s surroundings and its connection to the landscape. It teleports us to the scene, making it feel as if we stumbled across something found in the woods. The plants add an organic contrast to the strong lines and chiseled appearance of this exterior.
On the left, the composition reveals that the house sits nuzzled into a hillside. On the right, the two-point perspective accentuates the volume and stature of the building, as well as the symmetry found in the staircases and facade.
Don’t you feel like if you just stared at this photo long enough, you’d be able to see the shadows from the leaves gently swaying against the light on the facade? The quality of light and visual interest it produces here is just top notch.
Inside, Rafael gives us the lay of the land with an ample view of the interior. By going wide, he is able to include the myriad of great design features present, like the timbered ceiling, the skylight, loft space, and the expansive sliding doors and windows that open this house up to nature. I love the color work at play here. The bright blue sky gives a snap of color and contrasts against the adjacent warm wood and white walls.
Narrowing his composition down to focus on the doorway to the dining area, Rafael is still able to showcase the gorgeous ceiling and a sliver of the timber framed windows, yet there is a much more intimate feel here. The best bit though, is that dappled light streaming in — again, denoting the thick forest surrounding the house, and giving us the notion that we are standing here in Tlalpuente, late in the afternoon.
I appreciate Rafael’s judgment and taste in his post-processing. He leaves just enough of the green/cyan tinge from the trees on the walls to look realistic and non-rendered, but his whites are still relatively clean and feel polished. This line can be hard to toe, but I really love how he’s done it here (and in all of his work actually).
Speaking of restraint, he’s also done a beautiful job at his balance in exposure. There’s an awesome amount of mood present here, and I love how Rafael lets things fall ever so dim. This keeps the project natural feeling and allows us to put ourselves in the scene.
Back outside, a tidy composition relays the strong lines we find at the Tlalpuente house. The tracks for the doors, the repeating timbers, bulkheads in the ceiling, and window frames all move our eyes through scene in a very precise and linear way.
We’ll wrap this POTW with an image that shows the defining elements of this house: Here we see the dense trees encapsulating the house, strong sun casting long and linear shadows from the rectangular design pieces, and the open-air space that connect this home to its surroundings. What a gorgeous documentation of a very cool home!
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.