Tour This Artist’s Mesmerizing Oaxacan Escape
Bosco Sodi understands the virtue of patience. For his best-known paintings, the artist slathers canvases laid flat with a heavy mixture of pigment, wood, glue, and natural fibers—engaging in an intensely physical and intuitive process, alone, for hours on end. Weeks or months then go by as that slurry dries into distinctive topographies, each work cracking at the whims of weather conditions, revealing unpredictable nuances of place. “Things become beautiful the more time passes,” says Sodi. “I want to work with the elements, not against them.”
That was the idea behind his family’s new house in Puerto Escondido, a surfing hot spot on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Completed last year according to Sodi’s own designs, the beachfront home combines concrete, clay, and timber into a series of open-air palapas, the surfaces of which will weather with each salty breeze. Traditional Oaxacan thatched roofs offer shade from the harsh tropical sun, floor-to-ceiling openings frame ocean views, and walls of stucco and brick reveal the mark of local artisans. There’s no air-conditioning—just ceiling fans—and only spotty internet. Outside, a pool extends dramatically toward the waves, reflecting every sunset, every day gone by.
“I am not an architect, but I wanted to experiment with the materials,” says Sodi, who, if not exactly an expert, certainly knows a thing or two about construction. Since 2013, he has transformed this scenic swath of sand into the artist residency and nonprofit foundation Casa Wabi, collaborating with some of the world’s leading architects to realize its campus, now a pilgrimage site among design lovers. Tadao Ando conceived the main structure, with his signature cast-concrete walls. Álvaro Siza, another Pritzker Prize winner, devised the ceramics studio, distinguished by a curved brick partition. It’s accompanied by a towering kiln by Alberto Kalach. And Kengo Kuma created a sculptural chicken coop of interlocking wood boards. Sodi took inspiration from each, assembling their precedents into a mixed-media homage.
This coastal stretch has, in many ways, been Sodi’s home away from home for decades. He first began camping along the coast as a teenager, later introducing the area to his wife, Lucía Corredor, cofounder of the Mexico City design shop and atelier Decada. After building two other houses with his father in Puerto Escondido, Sodi eventually bought Casa Wabi’s ocean-facing plot. “We fell in love with the energy of the place,” he says, adding that he and Corredor were always eager for their three children—Bosco, Mariana, and Alvaro—to experience that magic. “Because we live in New York, I wanted our kids to see their Mexican roots, to understand their culture.”
While the original living quarters at Casa Wabi afforded the family a place to crash in between artist residencies, their new house allows them to stay as long as they wish. Such was the case this past year. After arriving in Puerto Escondido in early March to ride out the New York City lockdown by the ocean, they ended up sheltering in place well into May—finding relief along the beach and in the pool, the deep end of which invites pencil dives off the roof. Inside the main palapa, a timber Ping-Pong table gave parents and kids a chance to blow off some steam. That piece, like all the furniture in the home, was chosen by Corredor with an eye for rustic materials and hand craftsmanship. “We thought we would only stay for a couple weeks, but it ended up being the perfect place for us and the kids,” she says, reminiscing about sunset walks on the beach, movie nights outside with a projector and a sheet, and alfresco dinners with local friends.