The challenge was to design a country house near Villeta, Colombia, high in the jungle at the top of a very steep hill where the weather is hot and dry year-round.
The house — some 6000 square feet — is basically just three rooms, along with a studio, and public spaces, with an expansive terrace and swimming pool. One caveat? The house must be able to be completely closed when not in use.
So the architects started with two basic elements in architecture:
Towards the road, the house seems completely closed, providing privacy, but once you enter, via an intentionally low and narrow block, that perception changes. The house opens up through a patio that frames the views of the mountains; and, from the entrance, the platform that holds the social areas seems to float between the water feature at the entrance and the swimming pool at the back.
The social areas really seem to be one space, open towards the mountains on one side and to the entrance patio on the other. This space is defined by a second patio, framed by a void in the roof in which lives an Acacia, whose leaves shield one from the sun.
Towards the east, around the dining area, are the kitchen and service areas that appear as a lower block inserted under the main roof. To the west are the private areas, which face the mountains. For all the areas of the house, public and private, timber screen panels are used to slide, or pivot, allowing one to close off a space, or open it up to the outside.
The house is oriented north-south, taking advantage of the views and allowing for the swimming pool and terrace areas to have permanent exposure to the sun, morning and afternoon, without being interrupted by the shadow of the house.
It’s just a vacation house, in the middle of nowhere, but what a vacation you could have there!