A small house for Ecuador | Velasco Roldan and Hevia Antuña
Architects Luis Velasco Roldan and Ángel Hevia Antuña have built a prototype house designed for Ecuador’s climate and social conditions. The small house is made from locally-sourced, natural materials and uses passive solar heating.
According to the architects, knowledge of traditional building techniques in Ecuador has been all but lost, replaced by the use of industrialized materials that don’t perform well or that have significant environmental impacts. They hope their prototype house will help to reverse that trend.
The small house has an almost square floor plan of 48.7 m2 (524 ft2). There is a tree growing right through the center of the house. The architects don’t say why they built it around a tree, so we assume it was just for the novelty of it. However it’s not something we would recommend; there seems to be too many potential problems with water leakage, insect entry, the tree dying as a result of construction activity, and of course the possibility of it falling at some point.
One half the house is the living/dining/kitchen space. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors open the space to the outdoors. The other half has the bedroom, bathroom and an entry foyer that doubles as a home office. It’s hard to see in the photos but there is a barn-style sliding door to close off the bedroom from the main living space. The bed nook is positioned directly below a large skylight. The bathroom has a walk-through design that separates the vanity from the shower and toilet compartment.
The architects chose a surprising material for the insulation: pumice stone. The entrapped air bubbles insulate the structure while the stone itself provides thermal mass, moderating night and day temperature extremes. Monitoring of the prototype showed that the interior remained a comfortable 20 to 21°C even as outside temperatures ranged from 12 to 20°C.
The construction lumber came from local tree species. The siding is Ecuador laurel and the framing is eucalyptus, an inexpensive and strong wood that grows quickly. The house is topped by a living green roof. Pumice stone was again used for insulation as well as to provide a drainage layer for the soil and humus above.
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