There’s an M.C. Escher-like quality to this extremely concrete house in Oaxaca, Mexico. Designed by Mexico City-based French architect Ludwig Godefroy, the holiday home looks nondescript—even unappealing—from the outside, appearing as a rough-hewn concrete block whose only ornamentation are two wooden entrances.
But these portals transport you, indeed, to another world. Casa Zicatela, so-named for its close proximity to Zicatela Beach, reveals itself as an “open-air fortress,” according to the architect, characterized by a series of staircases, tall walls, courtyards, and patios.
Upon entering the board-marked Brutalist space, a courtyard garden flanked by two staircases leading to the roof and another set of stadium-like steps reveals a covered patio that makes up a living room and kitchen. Louvered wooden screens allow this space to be completely open on both sides.
Beyond that is another grassy courtyard surrounded by concrete stadium steps, then an intriguing moat-like pool that creates a kind of oasis within the bunker. Two bedrooms are found on either side of it, but the third is placed across from the water feature and can only be accessed by a bridge. In fact, this room juts into the pool. Although the house confounds, it manages to get under your skin. Take a look.