charred wood house on stilts touches lightly on the fragile andean mooreland ecosystem

charred wood house on stilts touches lightly on the fragile andean mooreland ecosystem

a residence that protects the fragile andean mooreland 


after years of meticulous research alongside architect cristina albornoz, bogota-based firm ZITA built a residence in the andean mooreland, a grassland ecosystem found in the northwest corner of south america. the project takes shape as a prefab structure clad in charred wood that sits on stilts in order to protect the local fragile ecosystem and its high environmental value. 

house in the andean mooreland 3
east elevation

all images courtesy of ZITA


prefab cabin on pillars steps lightly on  local vegetation


located at an altitude of 3,250 meters above sea level and within the tropics of capricorn and cancer, the andean moorelands are permanently producing water thanks to the relation between its unique vegetation capable of absorbing water from the atmosphere, and its perpetual cloud forest condition. this cloud landscape is a permanent feature on the horizon, permanently varying the depth of view and with it hiding and revealing the mountains.


seeking to step on the vegetable surface in a light manner, the house by ZITA (find more here) stands on concrete pillars which are designed to work without needing a floor beam tying them together and therefore avoiding any interruption to underground water flows. atop the pillars, a series of prefabricated timber porticos are installed and tied together by means of a system of prefabricated OSB walls and roof which operate as a structural diaphragm making the house’s skin part of its structure. by prefabricating the house, both construction time and waste were reduced. the assemblage of the house was performed 100% by hand and therefore avoiding the need for heavy machinery. 

house in the andean mooreland 4
south elevation


made up of two modules


the program is divided into two modules connected by a suspended sunroom. the main module holds the master bedroom and bathroom, and all communal areas, while the second module contains two rooms and two bathrooms. by fragmenting the program the scale of the house is broken up and reduced, and the two modules end up having larger facade surfaces allowing for multiple and varied views and transparencies. the communal spaces face the predominant north mooreland view and have a steel closing which can be actioned using a hand operated chain hoist to transform it into a terrace allowing the interior to extending outwards.

house in the andean mooreland 5
local materials and house blending


passive housing strategies responding to local climate


building in the mooreland also poses a challenge in terms of thermal comfort as temperatures can oscillate between 14°C and 3°C with an annual average of 8°C and average humidity of 85%. aware of this challenge the house implements a series of passive housing strategies which collect and distribute heat eliminating the dependency on electric and/or mechanical heating systems: the roof’s shape and location of wall openings allow all spaces in the house to have direct sunlight throughout the day. sections of cement walls located bellow the skylights absorb heat throughout the day and release it at night. the glass enclosed bridge that connects the modules also absorbs heat throughout the day and stores it in its stone floor. lifting the construction from the ground also reduces the absorption of humidity and maintains the floor slabs dry. 


in addition, charred cypress pine slabs capable of withstanding humidity and insect infestations make up the exterior layer. internally, the walls and roof are lined with plywood creating a shield that both retains the heat built up during the day and becomes the finishing of the house. finally, the shapes of the volumes not only perform as passive heating strategies, but also generate a dialogue with the cloud filled mountainous landscape of the place allowing the different peaks that the roof generates to be entrapped and revealed by the fog in the same way that the mountains in the mooreland do.

house in the andean mooreland 2
common area with terrace after being lowered and view to the moore mountains

house in the andean mooreland 8
master bedroom

house in the andean mooreland 9

house in the andean mooreland 10
common areas during cloud storm

construction process
construction process
section through common area, sunroom, and bedroom. north elevation. east elevation
section through common area, sunroom, and bedroom. north elevation. east elevation
sketches of the house, sun capture strategy, and predominant views
sketches of the house, sun capture strategy, and predominant views

project info:



name: house in the andean mooreland
designer: ZITA



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom

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