Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos reveals a tender affair with the vernacular

Drawing from the sensibilities and materiality of Colombian vernacular architecture, the earthy house by Ritmo Arquitectos is distinct in its ample use of guadua timber bamboo.

by Jincy IypePublished on : Nov 10, 2022

Prevailing typologies and shapes of architecture have evolved in the public eye, from primal, hand-built mud structures to the soaring concrete jungles of today. It has been intriguing to study, the forms of fusions it has birthed and branched out into, as in, the creative development in terms of merging vernacular architectural details within a modern edifice or space. Whether they require more effort or less in conceptualising and realisation, remains subjective, and up to the fancy of those these forms are designed for.

Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos finds distinction in its extensive use of guadua timber bamboo | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos finds distinction in its extensive use of guadua timber bamboo Image: Yeferson Bernal

For those of us on the sidelines, or even in the industry of building, it is a fascinating process to watch, since it is at once predictable and unpredictable. A lot of promise has been revealed in terms of merging modern and traditional aesthetics, materiality, construction methods, and spatial typologies, as seen in Our Lady of Victoria Monastery in Uganda, Mix Architecture's Shanshui Firewood Garden, and the Gadi House by PMA Madhushala in India.

Casa Milguaduas borrows heavily from its site | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
Casa Milguaduas borrows heavily from its site Image: Jorge Álvarez

The typologies of family homes in particular enjoy a lot more leeway, to experiment and draw from their surroundings, the site’s history and its prevailing cultural and architectural facets. Casa Milguaduas in Pereira, Colombia, captures the soul of the native guadua forest it is abundantly surrounded by, striving to belong wholeheartedly to its site, and harmonise with ease in a descending terrain.

  • The terrace illuminated at night | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The terrace illuminated at night Image: Juan David Toro
  • The house is divided into two cores - a leisure wing and a gathering wing | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The house is divided into two cores - a leisure wing and a gathering wing Image: Yeferson Bernal

Designed by Colombia-based studio Ritmo Arquitectos, the residential architecture goes beyond "being immersed in nature—It builds up expectation by presenting an introverted first impression with its pristine white walls, a guadua screen that reveals glimpses inward, as well as an optical illusion that conceals the entrance," shares the project’s lead architect, Juan José Álvarez Sanz.

The dwelling abstracts traits of Colombian vernacular architecture | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
The dwelling abstracts traits of Colombian vernacular architecture Image: Yeferson Bernal

Ritmo Arquitectos abstracted representative traits of the Colombian Coffee Grower Cultural Landscape (PCCC) rural houses of the area for the Milguaduas House, in an attempt "to reinterpret conventional archetypes in a contemporary context, thus seeking timelessness."

Conceptual sketch of the interiors for Milguaduas House | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
Conceptual sketch of the interiors for Milguaduas House Image: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos

Casa Milguaduas finds distinction and clear definition in its extensive, multifarious use of guadua—a tropical species of giant timber bamboo native to South America, and is considered the strongest bamboo in the world, and also the third largest. Three cascading pitched roofs rest upon each other on ensuing edges, crowning two plaster white volumes of the residential design underneath.

The three cascading roofs dressed in clay tiles | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
The three cascading roofs dressed in clay tiles Image: Yeferson Bernal

The Colombian architects integrate the principle of assigning specific areas for different activities, famously formulated by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer. The bamboo architecture is thus, divided into two cores—a leisure wing and a gathering wing. The formal structure housing the leisure areas is enclosed by a gable roof dressed in clay tiles, portioned into three units. In gentle contrast, the gathering area is sheltered by both, a continuous gable roof and a habitable rooftop inspired by the modernist movement.

  • Inside Casa Milguaduas | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Inside Casa Milguaduas Image: Yeferson Bernal
  • A quiet corner of the house (L); View of the study and columnade (R) | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    A quiet corner of the house (L); View of the study and columnade (R) Image: Yeferson Bernal

In this way, the leisure and gathering spaces remain in interaction, although irregularly, through a distinct guadua screen. This curtain-like segmentation shapes the façade design, while folding inwards to sew in the vertical guadua into the home. This creates an august entryway descending into the social area, injecting a subtle grandeur to the spatial and architectural character, in tandem with reinforcing the blurred connection between both cores of the private residence.

The gradual ascent into Casa Milguaduas (L); The guadua timber bamboo colonnade (R) | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
The gradual ascent into Casa Milguaduas (L); The guadua timber bamboo colonnade (R) Image: Yeferson Bernal

The 520 sqm contextual design gives precedence to its expansive gathering area, and is designed to generate interaction across different levels, while maintaining hierarchy between rooms attached with individuality and pleasing proportion. A serene guadua tunnel frames the forest at its end, building a preamble of expectation by revealing subtle glances of what happens downstairs.

Time lapse video showing the passing sun decorating the timber bamboo residence Video: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos

Almost theatrically, access to the home's living room goes from narrowness to openness, where attention is claimed immediately by the shadow like strips projected on the cement tiles, as if slowly birthed from the forest itself. On the same floor lies the heart of the house, the kitchen, and dining space, enjoying an absence of walls that allows a peripheral relation to its surrounding rooms.

  • Inside the dining room | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Inside the dining room Image: Juan David Toro
  • Inside the kitchen, the heart of the home | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Inside the kitchen, the heart of the home Image: Juan David Toro

Roofed and open-ended, the dining room becomes a spacious middle ground between the inside and outside of the house’s cladding. “Here, partially shielded by a guadua portico, the terrace is frequented by local exotic wildlife,” Sanz explains.

  • A guadua tunnel frames the forest at its end, as well as the house (L); Bamboo columns inside the house (R) | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    A guadua tunnel frames the forest at its end, as well as the house (L); Bamboo columns inside the house (R) Image: Yeferson Bernal
  • The spiral folded ladder on the terrace | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The spiral folded ladder on the terrace Image: Juan David Toro

A broad plinth guards the white walls from reaching the floor, hollowed from the inside to double up as the shelf area for the home's office. The feature also creates seats in the outline of the contextual architecture, facing the forest in earnest. A 'traditional' corridor lies around this surrounding bench, encircled by a slender iron handrail. "This railing detaches the essence of the traditional macana (wooden weapons used by the various native cultures of Central and South America) spindles, standing almost transparently before the landscape. In turn, these features are sheltered by eaves at the ends of the gable roof, traditional in shape and material," Sanz elaborates.

  • The room on the terrace reveals an earthy, cosy space | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The room on the terrace reveals an earthy, cosy space Image: Juan David Toro
  • The house entrance | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The house entrance Image: Juan David Toro

The earthiness of Casa Milguaduas is furthered by its use of natural resources, fostering sustainability in materials as well as its layout, thus reducing its environmental and energy impact. The material language articulating the single-family home is written across a palette of five—locally sourced guadua bamboo, pristine white walls, poured concrete, welded black metal, and baked clay. Used in their purest essence, these materials convey a monochrome and texture-rich tone. "By establishing independence between roof and cladding, as well as in the gable roof and habitable roofing being dislocated, the interiors avail themselves of natural light and ventilation,” the architects relay.

  • The beige infested kitchen area inside the home | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    The beige infested kitchen area inside the home Image: Juan David Toro
  • Bamboo clusters are also used as columns inside the house (L); detail of the flooring tiles (R) | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Bamboo clusters are also used as columns inside the house (L); detail of the flooring tiles (R) Image: Yeferson Bernal (L); Juan José Álvarez (R)

This displacement is mimicked by the arrangement seen in the layered descent adhering to the terrain, where rooms articulating the warm, beige-infested interior design as well as outside areas, are laid out downwards, forming peaceful pockets for lingering and relaxing, with verdant nature for company. Ritmo Arquitectos also convey that the habitable roofing acts as a canal for rainwater harvesting, lying between the traditional clay gable roof which draws a frame enclosing the forest. "This plate, as well as the sculptural folded staircase that leads to it, give off a breath of modernity among traditional archetypes," they add.

A petite jacuzzi accompanies the dining room | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
A petite jacuzzi accompanies the dining room Image: Yeferson Bernal

The use of timber bamboo also extends in the form of clustered bamboo columns inside, as cladding, as beams, support and joinery, apart from the extensive screens that also adorn the homely dwelling.

  • Site context | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Site context Image: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos
  • Axonometric diagram (top); Bioclimatic diagram (bottom)| Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Axonometric diagram (top); Bioclimatic diagram (bottom) Image: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos

The Milguaduas House reveals a sensitive, tender affair of locally sourced materials and the most basic archetype of living, a home with a pitched roof, drawing from sensibilities of Colombian vernacular architecture. The streamlined aesthetic, materiality, and spatiality of its wooden architecture reveals a cosy ambience, elegant simplicity, and artisanal craftsmanship, where the modern and rural unite with affluence. Ritmo Arquitectos leads with restraint, grace, and a laid-back charm, bridging local ingenuity to a contemporary sensibility, harmonising the home with its landscape, environment, and the rural context it arises from, giving off an almost nostalgic appeal with ease.

  • Site plan (top); floor plan (bottom) | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Site plan (top); floor plan (bottom) Image: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos
  • Elevations and sections | Casa Milguaduas by Ritmo Arquitectos | STIRworld
    Elevations and sections Image: Courtesy of Ritmo Arquitectos

Project Details

Name: Casa Milguaduas (Milguaduas House)
Location: Pereira, Colombia
Area: 520 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: ritmo arquitectos
Design team: Juan José Álvarez Sanz (architect in charge); Paula Díaz and Juan José Álvarez Sanz (project management architects); Juliana Muñoz (collaborating architect)

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