LOCATION Anapoima, Colombia.
DESIGN AR-AR - Fiallo atelier
COLLABORATORS: Valentina Torres Monroy - Raúl Fadul - David Rojas
PHOTOS: Jesús Fiallo - Ana Díaz - Carlos Martínez
At the top of a mountain, in the Calandaíma river valley, Marisol, the owner of Casa Volcanes, found La Cascajosa, a recreational house 2 hours away from Bogotá.
“Its hot tropical climate is a discovery of sensations and surprises. From time to time, you can feel the extreme humidity of the fog, the torrential rain and the blizzards that scare, as well as the dry periods of high temperatures, which suggest fires. The delight of the air and the insatiable sound of cicadas and frogs, of birds and insects inviting you to stay, are always a fundamental part of this marvelous environment.”
Marisol needed the voice of architects who could read the landscape and respond to the magnificence of its spirit. The project took on more beautiful and possible dimensions as their conversations flourished. Their sensibilities with the process and the recognition of the demands of the place made tangible the dialogue between client and architects.
Elements of the project
The plot had a one level construction of a typical Colombian coffee zone peasant house. The building revolved around a nucleus of closed rooms and a social space, picturesque windows and doors, with orange and green railings surrounding it. The bathroom and kitchen amenities were very rudimentary and barely functional. However, the space offered the experience of being in a magical place:
“… Birds crossed its air and the light of different hours of the day marked its shadows. The inside and outside were arranged in such a way that the house seemed to be part of the forest.”
So, the starting point was this pre-existence, giving it more strength, valuing it in terms of space, atmosphere and sensation. Likewise, the caretaker needed a place of his own that also required to be conditioned. As a result, the following modifications were made:
The rite and contemplation
The structures that enclosed and defined the kitchen were knocked down and the space was opened to the south-western landscape where the house is extended through a cobblestone floor that was incorporated. Thus, by orienting the kitchen’s location as an end finish to the surrounding area, the zone was conceived as the great central space for meeting, sharing and welcoming the house. Based on the weather conditions and respecting the shades of the place, the bathroom and its relationship with the environment was expanded to harmonize it with the gardens. The rooms were designed as semi-open spaces where mobile doors allow them to be extended to the landscape. The light and the darkness were designed to create scenarios, to give the house a ritual character and accompany day and night activities. The landscape as the main stage of the dynamics was reinforced with accents at specific points and the pond was rescued as an important focus.
Typology: Assessment of the pre-existence
The essence of the house was maintained; its high ceilings and rustic lattices were respected. The color of the paint was changed to a darker tone, giving a chromatic unity to the whole house, and together with a large river stone water filter that surrounds the house and conducts rainwater to the pond, gave greater prominence to the landscape. In this way, the house is silenced, producing a darkness effect that, at the level of perception, creates a reduction in the thermal sensation. In abstract terms, it is as if you were under a shadow. Hypothesis stated during the design of the project and verified by the inhabitants.
The railings were shortened in such a way that their presence became less significant, but more harmonious. Finally, Casa del Ocobo built for the caretaker, complemented the work. The chosen typology was an L, one of the sides has the social area and the other the private area; both house a garden patio. With a few movements, the house softened to promote harmony with the landscape.
To reduce costs, 80% of the woodwork was recovered from demolition deposits in Bogotá. Likewise, Casa del Ocobo was located on an existing cement plate in the lot. A dark material was sought for two reasons: on one hand that the building had a raw sensation to it and highlighted the darkness relationship of the place and on the other, that it was the most economical one. The chosen material was the handmade chircal brick.
In this way, the project managed to generate quality architecture from a very low budget with very specific strategies.
Note: The referenced texts are taken from an essay made by Marisol Leal; psychologist, artist and owner of the project.