By: Ed Kunze | Mexperience.com
Years ago in Mexico, in the time of the great land barons, the hacienda ranch was actually a self-sufficient small town. There was the town where the peasant workers lived, a small church for the workers, bunkhouses for the vaqueros(cowboys), a tack room for saddles and harnesses along with a leather maker shop, barns for special animals, a blacksmith, shops for making candles, corrals with lots of horses, the main house for the land baron’s family, and usually a small family chapel.
Since the breakup of the large land holdings, the term hacienda has taken on the meaning of a style of traditional architecture, of which I prefer over all other types here in Mexico when choosing a style of home to take advantage of a great view.
Hacienda style homes have a garden courtyard with surrounding (…) bedrooms and access to the rooms under a covered walkway. To understand the concept better, imagine a squared-off horseshoe. The top of the shoe, facing the ocean or the view from a hillside, could have the kitchen, dining area, family room, and maybe even an office or a bedroom. A second story could be added for the master bedroom. The legs of the shoe would have a bedroom each, with access from under a covered walkway. The garden would be in-between the legs of the shoe and adjacent to the main house portion, at the top of the horseshoe.
The garden courtyard can have as many bedrooms on its sides with the garden itself being as big as your budget warrants. It can have a fountain in the middle, or a small pond. The possibilities are innumerable. Plus, being the garden is at the back of the house, and facing the street access, it will also be the main entry area to the home.
You will want to build a wall on the street side to “enclose” the compound (keeping in mind the “street” is not all that close and access to the house is by a small circular drive). The wall will then have an arched main entry and possibly a gate, with smaller pathways in the garden courtyard leading to either side of the legs of the horseshoe, and the main path going to the entry door to the main house.
The advantages of a garden courtyard are numerous—and mostly obvious—but when a couple of bedrooms do not have the view the master bedroom has, it’s nice to at least be able to look out the window and see the garden and its fountains or pools. And, with the hacienda style of architecture, each bedroom has its own bath and a locking door. The rooms do not have access through to the main house. This type of independence is ideal for a maid’s quarters, a bed and breakfast, or for family members and guests who prefer the freedom to come and go without interrupting the main house.
If it were me, instead of buying a lot with a view, and then trying to figure out a house design to fit the lot, I would prefer to find a lot which meets my requirements, which is a hacienda style home, with a garden courtyard.