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Building the Pentimento House

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David Barragan and Jose Maria Saez call their Pentimento House "an architecture to be naked to connect with its surroundings." Built using a new, Lego-like modular prefab system the two architects developed, the Quito, Ecuador, project is featured in our December/January 2013 issue on newsstands November 27. Here, we share a slideshow of the house under construction and a sneak peek of the finished product.

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  The Pentimento House in Quito, Ecuador, is made from concrete modules that function like Lego blocks.
    The Pentimento House in Quito, Ecuador, is made from concrete modules that function like Lego blocks.
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  Here are some preliminary sketches of the project. Resident Desiree Marin wanted a house that would blend in with its environment and that could be built without disturbing the mature trees on her property.  Photo by: João Canziani
    Here are some preliminary sketches of the project. Resident Desiree Marin wanted a house that would blend in with its environment and that could be built without disturbing the mature trees on her property.

    Photo by: João Canziani

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  The architects were confronted with a very tight budget, which challenged them to create a flexible structural system. The most basic unit of the house is a concrete block modeled after fruit baskets the architects saw at a local market. "It can be placed in four different ways which solves structure, wall, furniture, ladders, even a garden facade," says Saez. Here's a wooden model of the module.
    The architects were confronted with a very tight budget, which challenged them to create a flexible structural system. The most basic unit of the house is a concrete block modeled after fruit baskets the architects saw at a local market. "It can be placed in four different ways which solves structure, wall, furniture, ladders, even a garden facade," says Saez. Here's a wooden model of the module.
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  Each module stacks to become a wall.
    Each module stacks to become a wall.
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  Here's a model of the house. The prefab system was devised as a flexible new building typology well suited to the earthquake-prone region of Ecuador. The concrete blocks are used for interior and exterior walls. Outside they can become planters for a vertical garden and inside they become storage—even a support for a dining table that seems to levitate.
    Here's a model of the house. The prefab system was devised as a flexible new building typology well suited to the earthquake-prone region of Ecuador. The concrete blocks are used for interior and exterior walls. Outside they can become planters for a vertical garden and inside they become storage—even a support for a dining table that seems to levitate.
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  Here's the house's foundation.
    Here's the house's foundation.
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  Builders place steel rods into the foundation, which hold the precast concrete blocks in place.
    Builders place steel rods into the foundation, which hold the precast concrete blocks in place.
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  Here's a view of the steel rods that will eventually support the interior walls.
    Here's a view of the steel rods that will eventually support the interior walls.
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  A construction worker preps the steel rods and concrete slab.
    A construction worker preps the steel rods and concrete slab.
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  The pieces are inserted over steel rods anchored with epoxy glue to the platform and become a tight structure of small columns and lintels.
    The pieces are inserted over steel rods anchored with epoxy glue to the platform and become a tight structure of small columns and lintels.
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  The start of an interior wall is in the center of this photo.
    The start of an interior wall is in the center of this photo.
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  Here are the walls nearing completion.
    Here are the walls nearing completion.
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  Here's the finished structure. Transparent or translucent acrylic, and wooden strips fill the voids between the blocks, filtering light throughout the house.
    Here's the finished structure. Transparent or translucent acrylic, and wooden strips fill the voids between the blocks, filtering light throughout the house.
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  Here's the exterior.
    Here's the exterior.
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  The versatile structure becomes shelf for books, ephemera, and whatever else needs to be stowed away. To see the complete house, pick up our December/January 2013 Prefab Comes Home issue on newsstands November 27.
    The versatile structure becomes shelf for books, ephemera, and whatever else needs to be stowed away. To see the complete house, pick up our December/January 2013 Prefab Comes Home issue on newsstands November 27.

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