MeMo House: Going Wild

The MeMo house, in the Northern District of Buenos Aires, is the result of an experimental work carried out on the one hand, by the architects’ and the landscape designers’ offices and, on the other hand, the owner.

“When we started the project, we knew we wanted a garden which would grow all over the place” —says one of the lead architects—, “But one of the first things the owner said was ‘I don’t want to mow any lawn and I don’t want a high maintenance garden’”. This became the basis for the design and it turned into an obsession of sorts for the entire team. Ignacio Fleurquin, one of the lead landscape designers, explains that they called a plant specialist for the pampas, delta and river areas as soon as they became aware of how precisely this project had to be thought out.

The team worked with the key objective of creating a house that would also be a garden and a garden that would not be a typical one. No watering, no mowing, no maintenance, no introduced species, all of which would mean a somehow “wild” garden. The owner actually ended up being the one in charge of finding and planting appropriate species. The plant specialist provided a long list of native vegetation, with common and scientific names, some of which were really hard to find even at local natural preserves. However, she found many of the plants in the countryside, either at the sides of the road or simply growing out of other species.

When the house was finished and the planting process began, she had collected 4,000 plants (cuttings, seedlings and from plant hunting). From this total figure, 60% germinated. Later on and to this day, with the garden settled, she keeps discovering unexpected flowers and fruits such as tomatoes growing out from small cherry trees or native clovers coming out of the earth. Even more surprising, she picked 130 kilograms of globe zucchini, squash and other vegetables harvested during her first season there.

The lot has a frontage of 8.66 meters and extends 50 meters deep. In order to guarantee sunlight access to all rooms in the house, the architects created a central patio which is also the spot where outdoor stairs lead to the first and second floor terraces. Bordered by ramps covered with plants that seem to pull the front and back gardens up to the roof level, these concrete stairs become the ultimate connecting component.

The many ambiances of the house become part of an intimate journey which, beginning on the ground floor, ends at the roof level, opening onto both the front and the back of the lot. The main bedroom opens onto a terrace-like area, at the first level, and the green roof becomes the final room to be enjoyed. “This is the most private and also the most exposed room in the house”, states the owner.
All green areas in the project collect rain water which is stored in an underground tank located in the front garden and reused for irrigation purposes. Solar panels and other passive cooling strategies such as cross ventilation help reduce the energy consumption of the project.

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Location: Northern district, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Landscape Plan: Estudio Bulla (Ana García Ricci, Lucía Ardissone and Ignacio Fleurquin)
Architectural Plan: BAM! arquitectura (Gonzalo Bardach and Matías Mosquera)
Landscape Consultant for use of native plants: Dr. Gabriel Burgueño
Bulla design team: Alejandra Yamasato, Pablo Rubio
Lot area: 430 m2, Built area: 215 m2
Green roofs: 133 m2
Date of completion: 2017, ongoing process
Photography: Jeremías Thomas