The ultra-urban setting of this garden home is not promising. Mendoza House is on a busy suburban corner with an elevated railway nearby. The noise and bustle that forms the backdrop to Buenos Aries is all around. Yet here, concealed behind tall two-inch thick timber fences is a garden home that embraces minimalism while connecting with the green spaces the architects have created all around it. It’s also a peaceful family home that has recycled the past to create a dwelling for the future.


Original home here was a 1970s build, the stoutly constructed home of a civil engineer, with conventional masonry walls and quite ordinary windows. As you may just have noticed, these have all gone. Designers La Base did, however, retain the reinforced concrete that formed the core, garden home architectural recycling in action. Weathered concrete pillars are left exposed as a signal to the garden house’s past, but design convention has gone. There are, for instance, no corridors, to maximise the use of limited space. As the architects of this open plan garden house put it, “each square foot of the house is used, without hallways .. maximising semi-private common spaces, such as the playroom on the upper floor and the studio in the basement".

Wood lattice to the exterior upstairs, which houses a patio and bedrooms along with the playroom, echoes the fence outside, allowing occupants to see out without themselves being seen. To the busiest side, the garden home is insulated by a wall of hand-chosen Portuguese tiles. Downstairs to the ground floor is the main living area, glazed on all sides. The aim is garden home as open shelter, fringed by fast-growing plants and a sparkling pool, boundaried ultimately by that thick timber fence. Further down, stepping on open tread stairs, there’s a real hideaway in the form of a new basement that houses the studio, with mirrored walls to reflect the planting above.

La Base’s Nicolás Tovo and Teresa Sarmiento say they aim to "create spaces and objects that inspire the senses and promote a language in permanent dialogue with the environment”. That architectural conversation is evident throughout this remarkable garden home, as is another part of La Base's philosophy: that of "singular products, infused by the profoundly human, with a unique aesthetic warmth and honesty”. Mendoza House could so easily have been yet another coldly brilliant exercise in minimalism, resenting human occupation. Instead it's a welcoming garden home that’s a sanctuary in the heart of a frenetic city. Quite the achievement.

Up next, a hidden coastal house is revealed.