Al Borde integrates nature into Casa Jardin in northern Ecuador

todaySeptember 23, 2021


Rammed earth walls and a glass outhouse feature in this rural Ecuadorian house by architectural studio Al Borde that is meant to challenge standards of comfort.

The Casa Jardin, or Garden House, is located in Conocoto, a rural area south of Ecuador’s capital Quito. It was designed for a client, José, who studied ecology and desired a home that felt seamless between inside and out.

Aerial view of Casa Jardin by Al Borde
The house is rural Ecuador comprises separate structures amongst the garden

While conceiving the design, Quito-based Al Borde studied the Cochasquí archaeological site in northern Ecuador, where the architects found replicas of houses built by a pre-Inca civilization.

“The house was structured from a circular, rammed-earth wall built around a Lechero tree of approximately four metres high, planted in the centre during construction time,” the team said.

Rammed-earth walls
Rammed earth walls blend inside and outside areas

Taking inspiration from the ancient ruins, the studio came up with an unconventional home made of natural materials and afforded a strong connection to the landscape.

The home consists of three separate structures: the main dwelling, a bathing area and a water closet. One must pass through the outdoor garden to access each building.

A drumset in the main dwelling
The main dwelling holds space for a drum set

“José and his house question the comfort standards,” the team said. “There are places where people do not know whether they are in a garden or house, or a house built by the garden.”

Rectangular in plan, the main dwelling has a single, large room that holds a kitchen, dining area and sleeping quarters. There also is a space for the client’s books and drum set.

The house's sleeping quarters
Sleeping quarters are also located in the main building

Rammed-earth blocks were use to form three of the walls. The fourth is made of glass and wood.

“The same soil removed in the excavation was used for load-bearing adobe walls,” the architects said. “They rest on a stone foundation that also works as a skirting board.”

Al Borde lined the roof with wooden staves
Wooden staves line the roof

The roof consists of wooden staves, waterproof fabric, and tiles made of earth and brick. Weeds are intended to sprout up between the bricks.

A front patio is shaded by a large overhang made of a polycarbonate panels and chaguarqueros branches. The canopy is supported by felled Euphorbia laurifolia trees – also known as Lechero trees – that will take root and regenerate.

“Over the years, new branches and leaves will grow, allowing the tree to follow its life cycle,” the team said.

A simple shower is housed in a greenhouse made of polycarbonate panels and Lechero trunks. Nearby is the outhouse – a glazed enclosure that is sheltered by a canopy held up by tree trunks.

Glazed outhouse
A glazed outhouse is held up by tree trunks

“Pooping for José is a ritual,” the architects said. “Between him and nature, there is only glass.”

“We imagine that guests will have many anecdotes to tell after visiting him,” they added.

wooden Roof made of wooden staves, waterproof fabric, and tiles made of earth and brick
The project overlooks surrounding hills

The property also features a permaculture system that was developed and built by the client.

Sewage is treated via a system with red worms, and gray water is treated with dwarf papyrus, a type of pond plant. The filtered water is used to irrigate fruit trees.

Greenhouse with a simple shower
The minimal shower is in a greenhouse

Moreover, organic waste is turned into compost, which serves as fertiliser for the property’s vegetables and medicinal plants.

“Native-wild plants have been kept to attract insects and birds from the area, controlling the proliferation of possible plagues,” the client said. “It works as a biological control in situ.”

Casa Jardin by Al Borde in Ecuador
Native wild plants and vegetables grow in clusters around the garden

Al Borde is led by principals David Barragán, Esteban Benavides, Marialuisa Borja and Pascual Gangotena.

The Ecuadorian studio is also behind the House of the Flying Beds – a renovated 18th-century home that has sleeping spaces suspended from the ceiling.

The photography is by Juan Alberto Andrade.

The post Al Borde integrates nature into Casa Jardin in northern Ecuador appeared first on Dezeen.

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