Located in the Mexican city of Merida, Yucatán’s historic capital founded in the 16th century built on top of what was an ancient Maya city, Casa Lohr is a case study on how to respectfully restore dilapidated historic buildings with contemporary finesse. Mexican practice 20Diezz Arquitectos, working with interior design studio Artesano, have transformed an abandoned 19th century colonial house that had been laying in ruins for quite some time into a modern short-term rental property steeped in the soulful charm of the property’s architectural heritage. Underpinned by a sense of traditional craftsmanship, the renovated property tiptoes between contemporary minimalism and boho-chic with simple lines, natural textures and muted earthy hues harmoniously complementing sections of the original masonry walls as a marker of the passage of time.
Having to contend with a quite narrow and deep lot that turns its back to the street, the architects opted to make the patio on the back of the property the project’s focal point upon which both the original colonial house and a new-built addition open up. Large arched openings with French-style glass doors allow plenty of natural light to flood into the master bedroom housed in the latter and the open-plan living area in the former which was created by merging two smaller rooms – a second bedroom is also housed in the historic building. A free-standing masonry wall partly jutting out into the patio has been left standing as a token of the building’s past, as well as a way to discreetly separate the dining terrace from the pool and Jacuzzi area. Crucially, two openings puncturing the worn-down wall allow views across the length of the property.
Exposed masonry walls mixed with limewashed sections are paired with barrel-vaulted ceilings that speak of the building’s original construction. On the floors, pasta tiles that have been custom made for the project further enhance the sense of traditional craftsmanship. A type of cement tiles that Yucatan artisans have been making by hand for more than a century using metallic molds to create colourful patterns, the pasta floor tiles take the role of carpets creating vibrant focal points in accordance with the furniture layout.
In combination with the palette of natural materials, which also includes rescued wood, and linen and cotton for various furnishings (many of which have been custom designed for the project), the neutral colour scheme of earthy hues imbues the house with a soothing, meditative ambience. Add in a collection of handcrafted objects sourced from Oaxaca, Jalisco and Yucatan, and you get a sense of Casa Lohr’s soulful authenticity.