When looking at this completed project it is quite difficult to imagine that it was designed in four days, based on a very vague brief and without having seen the site. Nonetheless, that was the deadline given to Argentinian architects Arquitectura X by the owners of this plot of land in a small town two hours north of Quito, Ecuador. The owners needed to be convinced by the design of the house in order to decide not to sell the land, and that was not an easy task to manage given the circumstances. The site is situated in a seismic area at around 2500 meters altitude, in a valley dominated by mountains on two sides. The architects decided to use the abstract glass house as a starting point, a universal scheme that can be adapted to mostly any site. By adapting this scheme to the specificity of the site and the availability of construction materials and techniques, the shape of the house became obvious as a courtyard type. The use of local construction techniques and materials such as earth offered the opportunity to blend the new house into the natural environment of the orchard. The final result is actually a variation to the traditional courtyard type house. The project is organized on three specific areas, the specificity being given by their intended use. These three clusters are organized both in plan and elevation by the central courtyard.
From a material point of view, the first storey of the house is built with loadbearing earth walls, while the top structures and roofs are made in wood.
The wooden façades with horizontal cutouts of the second floor are doubled by glass on the inside. The thin linear cutouts allow for a very interesting light penetration into the space, while maintaining their complete privacy.
The house is organized around a central garden into three distinct areas determined by their use. The ground floor is divided into a communal living area and a private night area for guests.
The level of privacy of the spaces is delicately suggested by the degree of natural light penetration. The day side of the house is enclosed by glazed facades and lets the light circulate through every corner. The guests bedrooms are set against the earth wall that only has thin and tall niche openings for light, keeping thus the privacy of the rooms.
The upper floor has the owner’s quarters, with their study, bedroom with en suite bathroom and walk-in closet. The privacy is protected by wooden wall panels in the bedroom, while the study is placed closer to the courtyard glazed wall.
The different heights of the spaces as well as the apparent earth or wooden structures give a lot of dynamism to the day area and to the spaces set around the courtyard. Earth grey, white and warm brown blend in harmoniously to create a cozy atmosphere.
The wooden stairs going up to the first floor are a beautiful and fragile presence, like an origami.
The many glazed walls and doors minimize the limits between the indoor and outdoor spaces and open beautiful views on the orchard, valley and the mountains.
Wood and light are the protagonists of the master bathroom. Light insinuates through the thin cutouts of the wooden panel walls and comes to intersect the light coming down from the skylight.