With a View of the Andes, This Concrete Retreat in Ecuador Follows the Sun

Made almost entirely of hand-poured concrete, a passive solar retreat in Ecuador hits all the right grooves.
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Missed deadlines are a common hurdle that comes with the process of designing and building a new structure—but when Felipe Escudero was commissioned to create a weekend retreat in the Andes Mountains for a young couple, they had a firm date in the books: their nuptial ceremony.

"El Quinche House was designed and built within three months because the clients wanted to celebrate their wedding there," says Escudero, who collaborated with Sebastian Ordonez on the build. Named after the rural parish in which it's located, just 20 miles outside of the clients' home in Quito, the spartan concrete box sits in a mountainside valley with considerably warmer weather than the capital city—and stunning views of the Andes.

Named after the rural Ecuadorean parish in which it's located, the El Quinche House, designed by Felipe Escudero, sits in a valley in the Andes, with stunning views of the mountainside.

Sparse but colorful furnishings soften up the interior, contrasting with the raw, hand-poured concrete surfaces throughout.

The residents also saw the property as a long-term investment, post-wedding, says Escudero: "They wanted to rent the house out for events during the time they are not there—this was something they had thought out from the start."

To that end, the structure accommodates generous bathrooms and a large service-size kitchen, despite its modest 750 square feet. But the most distinctive quality of the El Quinche House is its rugged materiality.

All of the walls were made by pouring concrete by hand, leaving a variety of raw and beautiful textures in the surfaces. Sourced from local quarries, the concrete also obviated the need for bringing disruptive machinery to the pristine natural setting. "Making concrete beautiful and durable meant finishes could be minimized in all spaces," says Escudero. 

Poured by hand on site, nearly the entire structure of the El Quinche House—including the kitchen counters and sinks—was made of concrete sourced from a local quarry.

For the designer, it was the perfect project to continue his study into sustainable structures on the Andes Mountains, driven by experiments in passive solar techniques. Oriented to the west to receive direct sunlight during the day and harvest heat for the evenings, windows and awnings were sized and placed with an eye for both curated views of the mountainside valley, as well as to protect the house against the region's strong windows.

And as for the newlyweds? They can rest easy knowing that El Quinche House will stand up to not only the elements—but the next batch of revelers and festivities that are sure to pass through its doors.

Detached from the main structure, a stepped entryway leads into the property.

A view of the site plan, surrounded by a series of gardens. As Escudero says, "All window openings were carefully chosen to frame the most beautiful parts of the surroundings."


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