Diffuse Borders Residence in Quito

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Diffuse Borders Residence in Quito

Quito Architecture in Tumbaco: New Ecuadorian Residence – design by arquitectura x

5 Jan 2018

Diffuse Borders Residence

Design: arquitectura x

Location: Tumbaco, Quito, Ecuador

Diffuse Borders Residence

Diffuse Borders Residence

This project became a house in the process, its actual configuration decided during construction, its final purpose still undecided.

Diffuse Borders Residence

Uncertainty and vagueness become the strategies and the tools for constructing a series of spaces which solve the family´s needs, based on two fixed requirements: a field for playing football and a barbeque for entertaining.

Diffuse Borders Residence

This meant actually to have a very clear and systematic spatial and dimensional strategy that could be directly translated into material, variable construction, a diffuse border system, a porous structure that could allow gradual change within a set of rules, while keeping with the strict necessities of seismic resistance.

Diffuse Borders Residence Diffuse Borders Residence

A redundant, light structural system based on standard steel flat bars, 6000 x 300 x 4 mm (6 and 8 mm where needed), a three dimensional lattice modulated every 600 mm.

Diffuse Borders Residence Diffuse Borders Residence

This lattice stands independent from the use and dimension of the spaces, but varies in order to respond to their layout, configuration, dimension and use. It is a diffuse border but with a particular quality or degree of porosity, becoming literally as weak or strong as required. Depending on your position within or without the lattice it becomes absolutely defined and solid, or it apparently disappears.

Although it is the structural, spatial and material system, it is not identifiable as an architectural or structural element that relates us to a house, thus it is undefined, a diffuse border between architecture and structure, between material and immaterial, between inside and outside.

Diffuse Borders Residence

What were the solutions?
An integral system, open, generic, efficient, unobtrusive and essentially architectural rather than structural, while being strictly structural in its response to the highest standards and norms for earthquakes. An architectural system based on light, flexible, standard steel flat bars, modulated to be modified, re-used and recycled; one construction element that through repetition, arrangement, order, geometry, presence or absence defines how the users relate to the interior, the exterior, the use of free or defined space, how the interior is protected from the sun and rain, how the exterior filters inside… ambiguity becomes that rich diffuse area ¨in between¨, a system of transition rather than definition.

Diffuse Borders Residence

How is the project unique?
We always work based on universal architectural principles, we´re not inventing anything.

What building methods were used?
A design method that was the actual construction system, a set of rules that allowed for uncertainty and variation in use and in the definition of the possible spaces the family would need to inhabit this place, as well as the time they would inhabit it for, while allowing us to develop the infrastructure independently of these decisions.
A redundant and light structural-material system based on standard steel flat bars, 6000 x 300 x 4 mm (6 and 8 mm where needed), arranged in a three dimensional lattice modulated every 600 mm.
Although the lattice has the exact same elements in all three directions it is actually two dimensional as the steel flat bars have no depth or volume.

The lattice is modulated but is irregular, elements are present and repeated only as structurally, spatially, or functionally needed, as furniture or protection from the elements. It allowed for variations every 600 mm, so the structural logic is the same as the spatial and organizational logic, every variation in organization had a position and dimensional variation on the lattice, with the final changes made during construction.
This lattice stands independent from the use and dimension of the spaces, but reacts and varies in order to respond to their layout, configuration, dimension and use. It is a diffuse border in all three dimensions but with a particular quality or degree of porosity, becoming literally as weak or strong as required. Depending on your position within or without the lattice it becomes absolutely defined and solid, or it apparently disappears.

Diffuse Borders Residence

What was the brief?
The brief more than open was rather ambiguous: we had to have a field for playing football and a barbecue, the rest varied through the process from one large social area with one bedroom to a large studio/office with flexible bedrooms. We decided with the client to develop the brief along with the design, because they needed time and information to decide what decisions to make, so we developed a system to allow us to make these decisions and variations in small steps and gradual scale. The brief became a set of rules.

Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
We have the privilege to have a lasting relationship with the clients. They are a couple who work in advertising who had already asked us to design and build their office a few years ago, then we remodeled part of their apartment and did a second smaller office for them. This project has become the house they have chosen as their home with their two boys, for now it´s just a house but we´re sure they´ll challenge us again soon.

What were the key challenges?
To be able to develop an open system that could answer to possible variations in needs or function, a spatial-construction-structural system that allowed for change while being totally open to the fantastic site and the changing relationships of the family with the place and their activities in this place; how to device the oposite of a container but with the same practical advantages and the same generic solution.

What are the sustainability features?
Most importantly all the main construction elements are modulated and are designed as a system, also they can be re-used or re-cycled. Specifically the structural-spatial lattice is built with standard steel flat bars modulated to avoid waste or cut-off sections; all elements were either used in full 6 meter (6000 mm) sections or in a variation of 0,30 meter (300 mm) sub-sections, producing almost 0 waste. None of the steel material that entered the site has left the site and all the steel needed for the lattice was transported in one trip of a pick-up truck (the flat bars were folded). All the structure only needed 3 to 5 workers to assemble with light tools and one set of scaffolding and wire to tense the structure while it was assembled and welded. The redundant structural system (repetition of similar elements in relatively short spans) is extremely light and efficient, with no need of heavy reinforcements for earthquake effort. The structure is so light the use of concrete in foundations and floor is reduced to the minimum allowed by norm, 0,40 meter (400 mm) underground. All rain water and gray water is recycled. All water heating is solar. Artificial lighting is reduced to a minimum due to open, transparent but protected spaces. No artificial cooling or heating is needed.

Diffuse Borders Residence

Diffuse Borders Residence in Quito – Building Information

Location: Tumbaco, Quito, Ecuador
Design: arquitectura x
2014 – 2017
Adrian Moreno, María Samaniego, Jorge Durán, María Gracia Borja, Andrea Cisneros
Client: Ruales Izurieta family
Structural design: Cesar Izurieta, Franklin Quisalema
Construction: Milton Chávez
Project size: 372 sqm
Site size: 2480 sqm
Completion date: 2017
Building levels: 2

Diffuse Borders Residence

Photos: Bicubik, Sebastián Crespo, Andrés Fernández

Tumbaco House images / information from arquitectura x

Arquitectura X


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