A Courtyard House in Old Mexico
In a historic village, two California architects build a two-story refuge that wraps around an outdoor living room.
We have always looked to our travels as a source of inspiration and creative growth because it is on the road that we are renewed. After years of travel, however, we began to think how nice it might be to have some familiar things while we are away — our tools, materials and books. So we tucked away a little fantasy that someday we might have a house in Greece and that the perfect life might include a couple of months a year there. We never imagined that our fantasy would come true south of the border.
We discovered San Miguel de Allende quite by chance ten years ago while searching for quarried stone. San Miguel is a 450-year-old Spanish-colonial town in the heart of Mexico, the Central Highlands. It is rich in ancient churches, cobblestone streets and crumbling walls cloaked by flowing vines. On one hand, San Miguel is a vision of Mexico stopped in time, with its ancient cultures and traditions almost untouched. On the other hand, it has become a center for contemporary arts and culture.
After that first visit, we have vacationed in San Miguel many times. On one trip, chance led us to a real estate agent. We had no interest in buying property but thought it would be entertaining to spend the afternoon with someone who could get us past the mysterious walls that conceal so much. The agent showed us many interesting properties, and we had a wonderful time speculating about each.
When we saw the last property, a precious, tiny ruin, something captured our hearts and would not let go. We were confused and intrigued. This place seemed to be an opportunity that we could not pass up.
Honoring the original house
Conscious that we would be foreigners barging into a neighborhood where…