Mexican architects Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent have turned a priest's 19th century adobe house into a 21st century residence, rejiggered a hotel of ill repute into their architecture office and built a rammed-earth dwelling into a seaside cliff in Ensenada. But it's their off-grid country home in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region that may be their most unusual project to date: The house is partially built from an abandoned refrigerator truck trailer, but unlike the converted shipping container projects that have been so fashionable in architecture, this one is flipped up on its end — a tower with rooms stacked vertically.
Dubbed El Granito for the elephantine granite boulders that surround the property, the 50-acre parcel was the discovery of D'Acosta's brother, winemaker Hugo D'Acosta, and a friend while they were looking for land to plant more vines. In a rocky plain where hawks soar on thermals by day and coyotes call to the moon by night, they came upon the truck trailer lying on its side next to a cinder block shack. Barrels smelling of chemicals filled the trailer.
“It was an abandoned meth lab — more el gramito than El Granito,” said a chuckling D'Acosta, referring to the term for a gram of drugs. “We liked the idea of taking a place that was used for making something bad and turning it into a creative place to cook up some good ideas.”