2013 Design Award Winner: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The Baja California coast is dotted with pretty little wooden-framed beach houses that are quite fragile, weathering quickly in the high winds and salty air. Architect Ezequiel Farca wanted to mimic that delicate look when he designed the Casa Vallarta beach home in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, but he wanted his structure to stand-up to the harsh beach climate.
The result: a contemporary three-story home covered with durable architectural precast concrete elements that imitate natural wood and other nature-influenced finishes to achieve a refined look that melds gently into the exotic beachfront surroundings.
The project included more than 850 small precast elements, ranging from 1.5 to 4 ft2 (0.14 to 0.37 m2), which were manufactured and installed over a two-month period in 2012. The pieces were placed in varying combinations on both the external facade and internal walls to create a variety of textures that alternate with other materials. Subtle variations of color were obtained by using diverse natural pigments in the concrete mixture and manually tinting each precast concrete element with acid-based stains in a range of tones.
The small precast concrete elements reflect the look of natural wood while offering a low-maintenance structure that will stand up to the harsh saline environment. That not only creates longevity, it lowers the long-term maintenance costs of the home. And because the pieces were fabricated locally by Pretecsa, construction, it had minimal impact on the delicate beachfront ecology and allowed the project to be finished ahead of schedule.