Mexican house design is fascinating, and I wish I could do it justice. What I offer is an amateur’s take on the residential architecture of Mexico, gleaned from my business trips to the area, which, unfortunately, rarely bring me into Mexican houses.
I have lots of pictures of Mexican homes, some beautiful, many plain, with an attempt to explain the aesthetics, mechanics and history of these homes.
This is an outsider’s view, and therein lies my biggest shortcoming in this endeavor. The beauty of the Mexican house is within.
Here is what I mean. If I walk through a neighborhood in the U.S. I can see a lot of houses. The exterior is on display. When I walk through a neighborhood in Mexico I see a lot of wall.
As a result I have been limited in my ability to get good pictures of Mexican homes.
This is typical. Short of cruising the streets on stilts I won't get any good photos of Mexican houses. Maybe I could hire a telephone company truck? Or put my camera on a pole. Lot's of possibilities. All likely to end with me in the back of a police car.
The Open Courtyard in Mexican House Design
This goes back to the Spanish roots of architecture in Mexico, and beyond that to the Mediterranean culture of the classical period. The warmth of that region spawned homes that were open to the elements. A peristyle, or inner courtyard, became the central element around which the house was organized. The various rooms of a house surrounded this interior green space.
Given a limited lot size, if you are going to have a courtyard, you will need to push the walls out to the edge of the property. Thus the Mediterranean style traded green space around a home for green space inside a home. This style carried over even to smaller homes which lack an inner courtyard. The home will have a small front yard, but walled off from the street, to create an economical version of the inner courtyard.
In the city of Queretaro is a house museum, the Casa de la Zacatecana, which is typical of city mansions of the 18th through 19th centuries.This is an excellent example of the open courtyard extensively employed in Mexican house design.