Channeling an intense connection to nature and craft, artisanal Mezcal maker El Silencio has brought forward a boutique hotel that’s as connected to the Mexican landscape as their spirits. Abutting a working Palenque (distillery), Casa Silencio rests at the heart of mezcal culture with warm, communal spaces, as well as the locally-sourced materials found throughout its sustainable design.
It’s a structure with a deep “mystical” connection to the craft, as Vicente Cisneros, cofounder of El Silencio, puts it. Having traveled the world from the Mexican wine country to the old whiskey distilleries of Scotland with his other cofounder, Fausto Zapata and architect Alejandro D’Acosta, the pair sought to draw inspiration from locale where the land plays such an intense role in the final product.
The result is an experiential retreat where guests can stand over pits of coal-roasted agave hearts, sip the smoky spirit at a giant communal stone table, and unwind in private rooms infused with a mezcal-inspired palette of copper, burnt wood, and volcanic rock.
Designing a Space That Can Live With the Landscape
Natural elements, alongside D’Acosta’s innovative approach to sustainable construction, Cisneros says, complements the mezcal maker’s made-by-hand ethos. Local soil, clay and sand were compressed using a rammed earth technique to make the uniquely textured walls. Oaxacan carpenters turned reclaimed wood into striking exterior pillars, ceiling beams, and window frames. Mosaics of recycled mezcal bottles lend transparency and artistry, while handcarved stone pieces form bathroom sinks and sculptures.
The suites, too, brim with local craftmanship. Rugs handwoven in the village of Teotitlán del Valle, curtains pedal-loomed in Mitla and wooden furnishings from San Andrés Huayapam adorn six carefully crafted spaces for guests.
Designer Martina D’Acosta, who also happens to be the daughter of the architect, sought to balance traditional Oaxacan elements with a contemporary feel. Here she added velvet upholstery, copper lamps, and distressed leather pieces. The finishing touches then come as an eclectic mix of paintings, illustrations, and pottery scattered among the suites and common areas, which include a restaurant, plunge pool and firepit.
The space was not without it’s share of challenges, however. Owing to the rugged landscape it pays homage to, much work needed to be done to bring life to the area. Roads were repaired, solar panels were installed and a water re-use system helps replenish scarce resources. The building itself was even oriented to better manage sunlight, breeze and insulation.
But no feature better exemplifies this push to connect Casa Silencio to the land than the custom-made, solar-powered tahona (a massive stone wheel used in the mezcal making process). As Cisneros states, Casa Silencio is “a modern temple to ancient tradition.”
Another version of this article was originally published on our sister site Hospitality Design.