jose maria saez + daniel moreno flores: algarrobos house, ecuador jose maria saez + daniel moreno flores: algarrobos house, ecuador
dec 03, 2012

jose maria saez + daniel moreno flores: algarrobos house, ecuador

‘algarrobos house’ by jose maria saez + daniel moreno flores, puembo, ecuadorimage © sebastian crespoall images courtesy of jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



not all projects have the luck or the privilege of being located on a breathtaking site, this is not one of those projects. situated at the top of a valley overlooking the mountains of puembo, ecuador, amongst deep crevices, snow-covered caps, plateaus and native vegetation is the ‘algarrobos house’designed by local architect jose maria saez and ecuadorian architect daniel moreno flores for a private family. the peculiar context posed a great challenge: to bring the grandiose presence of the landscape to a relatable, digestible human scale; as a result, the residence is based around three points: the user, the function, and the surroundings. the structure then follows these principles, with a concrete foundation embedded into the hillside setting the floor areas and dimensions of different rooms.


the most notable feature is comprised of eight massive 18-meter long steel beams that overlap each other on the x,y, and z axes. like arms reaching out in all directions, the girders provide cantilevered structures from which certain parts of the program are allowed to nest, being immersed into the scenery with unabridged views. they also act as an intermediary between the larger site lines and the smaller-scale elements of the house.filling the voids between the members and further defining individual spaces are a substructure of wooden  frames, whose repetition and simplicity bring the scale down one step further to delineate several functions without confining them into being literal ‘rooms,’ still allowing a direct exposureto the exterior.



timelapse showing construction of the metal structure
video © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



profile extends to the landscape in all directionsimage © sebastian crespo



to complete the construction, a transparent glass skin wraps the entire construct, not only helping to insulate the interior but adds a new layer of complexity to the project in the form of angles and reflectance. the design is very much rooted in the dwelling’s relationship to the site, in addition to the owner’s relationship to the dwelling. the three dimensional planes of glazing and rooftop reflecting pools allow a new connection to the landscape, at times offering a simple view from various elevations, at others reflecting the landscape so that the hearth essentially disappears.



cantilevering spaces of repetitive frame structuresimage © raed gindeya muñoz



image © raed gindeya muñoz



(left) view form belowimage © sebastian crespo(right) cantilevering bedroom volumeimage © raed gindeya muñoz



deck looking over the siteimage © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



glass envelope creates reflections and transparenciesimages © raed gindeya muñoz



rooftop reflecting poolimage © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



entrance to house on gradeimage © raed gindeya muñoz



image © sebastian crespo



entry courtyardimage © sebastian crespo



entryimage © raed gindeya muñoz



interior stairs, concrete foundation, and steel beamsimages © raed gindeya muñoz



bedroomimage © sebastian crespo



image © raed gindeya muñoz



bathroomimage © raed gindeya muñoz



dining room and kitchenimage © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



living room opens up to the exteriorimage © sebastian crespo



located in a mountainous landscapeimage © sebastian crespo



construction of the steel beams with square sockets and sections fitting together like lock and key to support enormous weightimage © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



image © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



construction of wooden ribsimage © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



image © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



image © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



image © jose maria saez and daniel moreno flores



floor plan / level 0



floor plan / level -1



floor plan / level -2















project info:



start date: 2009construction: 2010-2011construction: luis guamancollaborators: margarida marques, estefanía jácome, santiago vaca, claudia ponce, estefanía luna, adrián beltrán, joe jivaja, dennise paredes, valentina césar izurietacost: 290,000floor area: 338 m2total area: 495 m2

  • talk about a view! yowza

    I keep wanting to see one of the two upright elements a little shorter

    dbkii says:
  • We architects are not easily impressed with each others work, but this is truly remarkable.

    Mike Jackson says:
  • lightning rods?

    thomas says:
  • Extravagant investment and a forgettable result in an unbelievable landscape.

    Kenneth Smythe says:
  • nice use of positive and negative spaces both horizontal and vertical
    the understanding of juxtapositions
    strength to equal that of the landscape
    thank you

    Paedra says:
  • Thanks for the construction pictures.
    Very good time lapse video.
    This is quite an erection.

    Dan says:
  • There is something very very ancient about this very modern place. The interiors are particularly compelling, touching deep into a lost land of forgotten dreams in another world. And the light.

    mArkW says:
  • Shades of “falling water”, sans water, bold horizontal cantilever element that defines the deck. Interesting statement.

    nelsondreyes architect says:
  • Anyone know what units the 290,000 cost is in? Ecuador uses the US dollar, so it’s can’t be that cheap… Unless it is… In which case I’m packing my bags for Ecuador to live like a king.

    parker says:
  • This project speaks so boldly about connections, from connection of the different materials used to connection of architecture to site. Connections that are all but missing in typical architecture today. This project is pure inspiration for me. Glad to have stumbled upon it!!!!

    Dave says:
  • Staggerring!
    One of the few times I wish I was really, really rich so I could have one of these too!

    bilbaggins says:
  • Simplesmente fantástico. Belo projeto. Bela casa. Congratulations

    Eziquel says:
  • WOW. Jump off a cliff, FLW, you have met your equal!

    Max says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

architecture news