Project: Rain Harvest Home
Architects: Collaboration between Robert Hutchison Architecture & Javier Sanchez Arquitectos
Project Team: Robert Hutchison & Javier Sanchez, Sean Morgan, Berenice Solis
Structural Engineer: Bykonen Carter Quinn
General Contractor: Mic Mac Estructuras
Location: Temascaltepec, Mexico
Completed October 2020
Photography: Cesar Bejar, Benedikt Fahlbusch, Alberto Kritzler, Laia Rius Solá
Rain Harvest Home (La Casa que Cosecha Lluvia) is a humble, tripartite home in the mountains west of Mexico City that integrates with the landscape and the site’s natural cycles to offer an experiential connection to place. Living functions are dispersed into three porous wood buildings that sit gently in the landscape, with bathing and study dedicated to compact structures separate from the main living pavilion. The trio of buildings each collect rainwater, connecting to a reservoir and on-site treatment and storage system that supplies 100% of the home’s water year-round.
Located near the town of Temascaltepec, the name of which is drawn from the pre-Hispanic “temazcal” referring to bathhouses and sweat lodges, the home is a prototype for designing regeneratively with water in a place where it has become an increasingly scarce resource. The Rain Harvest home is part of a progressive 450-acre development called La Reserva el Peñón which presents a new model for how communities can coexist with nature. Gathering 80 families, La Reserva implements regenerative design strategies to preserve and replenish the land, including a community water collection system that is 100% water autonomous. Each home in La Reserva is required to harvest rainwater to provide 60% of their water needs, with the neighborhood’s 15 reservoirs providing the remainder. Rain Harvest Home sought to push this agenda even further, developing a completely self-contained and self-sufficient water system.
Rain Harvest Home’s dispersed program encourages a close sensory and functional engagement with the land, with walking trails between buildings doubling as bioswales that help channel rainwater. The design offers a subtle participation with nature, the three buildings serving as the aperture through which users engage with their environment to generate a mutually beneficial connection with the site. Besides being water autonomous, the site contains a bioagriculture garden and orchard where the family harvests the majority of their food. Building on La Reserva’s goals, the home’s landscape approach is centered on regenerating the soil which had been depleted over time.