studio alfa designs house ao in response to andes mountains' harsh conditions

studio alfa designs house ao in response to andes mountains' harsh conditions

house ao, designed by studio alfa sits on a plot in an elevated area bordering the city of otavalo, ecuador. the captivating views towards the east face the imbabura volcano, marking the axis that organizes the residence’s spatial scheme.

house ao’s context view towards the volcano. photography: bicubik



the harsh conditions found in the site, due to its position in the cold, equatorial andes, made the architects design a house that responded to its environment. the house’s orientation became a pivotal factor so the main spaces would have the best views and at the same time allow the greatest amount of sunlight to enter. this allows the house to maintain a pleasant temperature during the whole day without the use of electromechanical heating systems. the volumetric proposal comprises two parallel volumes placed over a plinth of stone, and rotated over the lot so they align with both the rising sun and the peak of the imbabura. this rotation also allows for the northern winds to hit against the building and prevents dust and cold to come into the house.




two perpendicular axes cross the volumes connecting the different spaces: service, social, and private. the first axis marks the entrance, and it turns into the main circulation path of the house. it also works as a gallery that weaves through the interior spaces of the house from south to north. the client asked for the social area to be the main focus in the project, to which the designers responded by creating a five meter high living room in the center of the house with complete transparency towards the exteriors.




to the east of the living room, there is an exterior social area complete with a central fire-pit, a bench and lush vegetation. towards the west, a closed barbecue area acts as a link to the exterior and functions as an element to expand the social area. the transparency of the space allows unobstructed views directly towards the volcano. the kitchen and master bedroom each lie at the eastern extremes of both volumes, providing them with picturesque views of the landscape.




at the ends of each volume, the roofs were heightened to capture most of the morning sun. this gesture also manifests reverence towards the astounding imbabura volcano. materials such as stone, brick, and roof-tile aim to root the architecture to its context and maintain harmony with the surrounding houses. the extensive glass windows allow for abundant sunlight in the interior spaces as well as a seamless connection to the house’s context. the exposed steel structure and the white walls play harmoniously with the contemporary and the traditional architectonic languages that characterize the project.











project info:


designers: studio alfa. patricio caamaño, josé daniel terán, architects

location: otavalo, ecuador

architecture team: architects: christian endara, juan pablo jiménez, soledad orozco, héctor bonilla, vicente frías, sebastiano dimagio, miguel arboleda, estefanía lasso, angelo romero

structural design: vanegas + martínez

typology: house

lot area: 2 300 m2

constructed area: 510 m2

design year: 2017

construction year: 2018

3d visualization: simple light

photography: bicubik



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: cristina gomez | designboom

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