the architectural language of ecuador has seen many different influences throughout its long history. while one of the most commonplace styles is that which was introduced by spanish colonists, the spirit of the nation is characterized by its local built vernacular. contemporary architects continue to make use of traditional materials and construction techniques, often taking influence from the subtropical climate and mountainous landscape.
in this edition of reader’s radar, designboom explores the contemporary language of local ecuadorian architecture.
image by JAG studio
natura futura has built a house with baked bricks and glass-less windows in villamil, ecuador. capturing the essence of the area, which was once a port for fishermen and has been declared by UNESCO as the second best climate in the world, natura futura had incorporated traditional elements in the design of the residence such as shutters instead of glass on the windows which allow for ventilation and shadow, and bricks that provide both privacy and permeability. a system of teak wood pillars supports the two story residence, which natura futura have chosen to develop on a horizontal plane.
image courtesy of emilio lópez arquitecto
emilio lópez arquitecto has designed a family home located near the top of a hill along the coastline of don juan in ecuador. oriented from east to west, the building opens at both sides: in the front facing the ocean and in the back to a native deciduous forest. the concept of the double-opening shapes the architecture, which is conceived as two funnels that converge at one side. emilio lopez arquitecto designed the scheme to contain the very simple plan with two levels of open area connected through double-height ceilings.
image by JAG studio
ecuador-based architect and photographer juan alberto andrade has designed ‘the lighthouse’ or ‘la caja de luz’ in bahía de caráquez for a local woman who had lost her home to an earthquake in 2016. the two-story dwelling derives its name from its exterior appearance — the second floor covered with semi-transparent polycarbonate is placed onto the base of the first floor and illuminates the surroundings at night. andrade’s project was divided into two independent housing units — the ground floor for the client and the upper floor to function as the economic income for rent lost in the earthquake.
image by JAG studio
ecuador-based studio al borde has refurbished a seemingly useless ruined house in ibarra into a modern family home. having kept the existing earth walls, the architects reinforced them maintaining the open layout of the space, and adding one little yet very significant element — suspended beds for each member of the family under the ceiling. the final finishes of al borde’s completed work are almost the same as they were there in the 18th century, as the refurbishings that were done are a few and strategic — structural walls are reinforced, rammed earth is treated, doors and windows that were in poor condition are changed, and the floor is clad with polished concrete.
ruptura morlaca designs a minimalist house based on the client’s desire to retreat to a serene, silent, vast, spacious and forested site. the project team sited the house where nature is most expressive, in cuenca, ecuador — where, in the mornings, the atmosphere is characterized by a thick mist which settles into the mountains and floats among the sloping landscape, revealing a hint of the canopy of treetops, mountain peaks. working with the natural slope of the site allows ruptura morlaca to ‘observe architecture as a landscape and buildings as their mountains.’ this generates an artificial territory that adapts to the topography, manipulating the landscape to obtain a new geography that rises when moving between the treetops.
‘quilico’s nest’ is an underground shelter for parachutists, built by students as part of the al borde studio in universidad tecnológica indoamérica in ecuador. the project is a low-budget construction with low-tech materials such as earth, wood, and recycled tires, designed and built by the students during the whole semester. the learning methodology the professors applied was based on learning by doing while focusing on real projects. designed by three students — darío cárdenas, jonathan proaño, and daniel sandoval — quilico’s nest is set in a field where parachutists depart and land. due to this condition, it is forbidden to build in the area for safety reasons. nevertheless, as the shelter is underground, al borde’s students managed to obtain a permit to build the refuge for ten people.
entitled the ‘invisible portal’, this architectural intervention by natura futura arquitectura was built aiming for people to reflect on the lost vision of the self that beats on the other side of the reflection. light, prismatic, and suspended over the abyss, the temporary pavilion wants to bring us back to earth, to the roots—resulting in a door that opens to return to the idea that before we were not part of big cities but that we used to live in the countryside, maintaining a relationship with nature. with a structure and an interior of wood, the ‘invisible portal’ has a mirrored skin. situated among an area known as ‘enchanted clouds,’ this structure by natura futura is part of a series of self-managed interventions the team creates to promote different kinds of experimentations and reflections on our contemporary lives.
sited in pifo, ecuador, estudio felipe escudero’s ‘little roofs’ is designed with the concept of combining tradition and modernity to create an industrial building that represents the ethos of the client. the design is characterized by a series of differently sized gable roofs, covered in an undulating skin of black aluminium cladding. the building’s largest warehouse is designed as a temperature controlled storage area for cheese. polyurethane panels have been specified on the inner skin which thermally insulate the internal space from the outside. at the entrance to the site is the ‘guard house’ which resembles a smaller version of the main structure. the same geometry, but at a lesser scale, is employed by estudio felipe escudero to create a connection between the different elements of the design.
architecture in ecuador (44 articles)
designboom readers radar (10 articles)
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