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odd House 2.0: A House in the Andes

Los Arrayanes, Puembo, Ecuador

Type: Residential
Client: Private
Size: 558.31m2
Status: Completed, 2020

*Architizer A+ Awards Winner, 2021

Reinterpreting Andean vernacular architecture for contemporary living, this project celebrates journey and discovery through a seamless integration of landscape and built form. The three levels of the residence rise in the form of a solid earth monolith from a designed landscape of mounds. Carving access areas through the mounds exposes rammed earth walls, mimicking the ancestral ‘Chaquiñán’ – a system of trails used by the ancient Andeans to travel through the extensive rugged Andean geography. These angular creases cut through the terrain to create a hollowed and flexible semi-underground space that evokes a sense of astonishment and awe often present when walking within unearthed ruins.

The façade– a composition of adobe bricks, generates a play of textures, shades and shadows when light hits at different times of day, giving the façade an ephemeral and light condition, akin to a floating lamp. This high-tech, ventilated façade also helps mitigate extreme changes in daily temperature and water permeability, embodying a commitment to sustainability that is present across the house.

The sectional characteristic of the house is highlighted by an elevator platform that moves vertically through the three levels. This elevator platform takes the form of a ‘living room’ allowing the adjacent programs to be optimized and modified for a variety of user-specific requirements. This programmatic and spatial flexibility extends to the fluid relationship between indoors and outdoors. Strategic openings and a careful curation of window and façade play with visual transparencies, blurring the boundaries between the built and the natural. The house embraces its site and context to evolve the vernacular for Andean architecture.

The landscape emulates the local topographical condition, with native vegetation carefully curated to evoke a sense of highland wilderness. In A House in the Andes, vernacular architecture is not limited to the building itself, but extends into the surrounding landscape.