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.

The Pentimento House in Quito, Ecuador, is made from concrete modules that function like Lego blocks. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

The Pentimento House in Quito, Ecuador, is made from concrete modules that function like Lego blocks.

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  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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.

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. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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.

Each module stacks to become a wall. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Each module stacks to become a wall.

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. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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 the house's foundation. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Here's the house's foundation.

Builders place steel rods into the foundation, which hold the precast concrete blocks in place. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Builders place steel rods into the foundation, which hold the precast concrete blocks in place.

Here's a view of the steel rods that will eventually support the interior walls. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Here's a view of the steel rods that will eventually support the interior walls.

A construction worker preps the steel rods and concrete slab. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

A construction worker preps the steel rods and concrete slab.

The pieces are inserted over steel rods anchored with epoxy glue to the platform and become a tight structure of small columns and lintels. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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 start of an interior wall is in the center of this photo. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

The start of an interior wall is in the center of this photo.

Here are the walls nearing completion. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Here are the walls nearing completion.

Here's the finished structure. Transparent or translucent acrylic, and wooden strips fill the voids between the blocks, filtering light throughout the house. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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 exterior. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

Here's the exterior.

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. Photo  of Building the Pentimento House modern home

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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