by Sneha ShahJun 03, 2023
With the incredible biodiversity inherent in Colombia’s natural landscape and ecosystems, the country rivals the likes of Brazil and Mexico in exemplary architecture, blossoming new interpretations of tropical modernism. Looking a lot like the next frontier of urbanisation, the underlying vocabulary of residential architecture that is ubiquitous throughout the region, blurs the barriers between the inside and outside of a house. The homes are solid and well-defined with a blend of traditional and contemporary motifs, allowing the spaces to be protected from the sub-tropical climate and yet yielding uninterrupted vantages of the bucolic setting around. Casa OT by studio DARP (De Arquitectura y Pasaje) is one such endeavour, nestled on a plateau amongst the lush landscape of El Retiro, Antioquia.
The one-of-a-kind private residence reflects upon its situated-ness in terms of linear and angular forms, materiality, and spatial configurations; designed to communicate directly with its geographical context. As the design team describes, “It is based on a single extruded section and is capable of addressing all the spatial and programmatic needs of the house and its inhabitants. The entire foundation of the project is developed from this simple idea. Three longitudinal volumes span in the direction of the sloping terrain, integrating and perforating to articulate different spaces of the house and its site.”
The program is divided into a multitude of three volumes, coming from the spatial design in the plan and adapting as best as possible to the topography. Organised as a quintessential domestic layout, the first houses the social and service areas, the second comprises the bedrooms and there is a central pavilion that serves as a transitional articulator between the other two volumes. The home is accessed through this visually striking ‘void’ that consists of a vestibule, an inner courtyard and a study. The spaces are delineated by glass walls, maximising views of natural landscape and forging a coexistence between aesthetics and functionality, and the coherence between what you see and what you experience.
“The functional scheme of the house rescues and reinterprets the structure of the traditional patio house from Antioquian colonisation architecture. The patio consists of a curated garden of aquatic plants and native vegetation. As the heart of the system, the patio allows visual transparency, thereby improving the lighting and ventilation conditions of the house”, elaborates the DARP team, on exploring the legacy of courtyard houses and the concept of patios where nature and human-made construction meets.
Upon entering the vestibule through the first pavilion, one descends parallel to the topography, gaining the high-ceilinged expanse of the social and service areas. These glass-enclosed spaces are surrounded by covered terraces and gardens that are suited to rest and connect amidst the dance of light and shade. In addition to facilitating the segregation of public and private, the bedrooms and more intimate spaces are located in the final volume of the house. Creating three distinct areas, the bedrooms extend outward through an elongated terrace adorned with green pockets. The strategic placement of these rooms shields them from the noise of the perimeter road and offers a direct relation to the mountain and the forest.
The orientation of the house with its long facade lies along the north-south axis while the short façade is oriented along the east-west. As means of solar protection and to serve as extensions of interior spaces, the covered terraces are employed on the western end. This allows the significant areas of the home to open towards the compelling landscaped sections of the property. Concluding on the materiality and approach, the team shares, “The project is rigorous and starts from the modulation of the brick piece, to establish a single spatial module of 1.8 meters in length and six meters in the short direction. This rationalises the use of all construction elements, optimising resources and avoiding waste in the construction process. The brick weaves act as filters that screen the landscape and contribute to defining the unique character of each space. The masonry walls framing the three pavilions are crafted with varying thicknesses, recesses and projections to emphasise structural modulation while creating captivating textures through light and shadow.”
Contemplative in ambience, the design strives for authenticity through the use of simple materials such as exposed brick, wood, glass and metal, a balance of form and function and a relationship to what is local. The interior scheme constitutes a contemporary character with an emphasis on structural lines and a seamless transition of a sequence of closed and open spaces with an experience that makes one feel rooted in the place. Overall, the home edges closely on tropical minimalism with a touch of vernacular architecture, resulting not in an imitation of the old but a modern interpretation reminiscent of tradition and culture.
Name: Casa OT
Architecture Office: Studio DARP (De Arquitectura y Pasaje)
Location: Medellín, Colombia
Total Floor Area: 470 Sq.M
Completion Year: 2022
Project Lead Architects: Jaime Cabal, Jorge Buitrago
Design Team: Cristian Camilo Ríos, Alejandro Pérez Jaramillo, Mariana Gil Flórez, Steven Ríos Marín