‘We wanted to create a structure that makes you stop and ask yourself: “What is it?”’ This was the unique aim of Eduardo Valdes and Alexander Landsberg, founders of the Tulum-based design lab Terreo Studio.
Anyone happening upon their building’s elegant Roman-inspired arches, which reach almost magically into Mexico’s dazzling blue skies, would agree they achieved it.
Located in La Veleta, a diverse and creative district of Tulum, this architectural flight of fancy was influenced by Eduardo and Alexander’s love of the region. ‘We were inspired from the moment we arrived,’ say the duo, who soon realised there was a huge demand for beautiful buildings that were, they explain, ‘not cookie-cutter’ in style.
‘The idea was to create a modern design ruin,’ they add. A place that looks at once ancient and contemporary.
A series of vertical and perpendicular arches conceal the property’s façade, disguising eight private apartments – the jewel of which is this luxurious penthouse and pool. Belonging to a musician and his young family from Los Angeles, this holiday home is split across three levels and takes its aesthetic cues from materials and traditional designs native to Mexico.
This approach begins with the very walls themselves. The exterior ones are crafted from a local white stone that is packed with fossilised shells. ‘Eduardo and I got the idea on a trip to Morocco, in the Atlas Mountains, where we found many ammonite relics,’ says Alexander, who adds that the project’s name ‘Fosil’ (the Spanish spelling of fossil) was dedicated to this discovery, which can also be made if you dig down into the soil around Tulum.
Inside, the walls and floors of the apartments are covered in chukum, a limestone-based stucco mixed with resin from the native chukum tree. Locally sourced timber has also been used for the carpentry in the kitchen and bedrooms.
‘The materials we choose must always be honest,’ explains Alexander. ‘We both love Mexico and a lot of inspiration comes from our travels, from the Yucatán to Mérida, the old haciendas, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Chiapas. We collect items for our interiors store, also called Terreo Studio, in La Veleta that we run alongside the architecture and design lab, collaborating with artisans from all over the country.’
A fusion of modern luxury with traditional Mexican design is key here. ‘We try to create minimal but cosy spaces,’ continues Alexander. ‘If we were to define the Tulum style, it would be rustic and restrained, with natural materials, light colours and earth tones. For us, the vibe is very important. We love the idea of creating the ambience of a country house, a farmhouse, a holiday oasis.’
Part sculpture, part home, this property is all of those things, and more. @terreostudio