Climatic relationships – Colombia

Located in Retiro, Colombia, the house is composed of two separate structures linked by a path and a large garden in a forest clearing. What could have been a single larger house, was developed as dispersed volumes positioned in the steep slope, each one situated in a unique way in relation to the topographic features of the beautiful site. Each structure is clearly different, yet they all share concrete formwork and custom made stainless steel details.
Originally the site was a forest clearing used for cattle, presenting the opportunity to reconfigure the landscape by designing gardens that link both structures. The gardens in the slope are planted with species that on a first glimpse seem to be from a much higher climatic zone. Wild orchids, bromelias and other small plants were selected for their similarity to high altitude alpine plants. In a climate that is indeed cold and mountainous, this garden presents a different version of the tropics, intensifying the experience of a garden in the high altitude Andes.
Designed by Ballen House / LCLA Office + Clara Arango, one house stands four meters over the terrain on a single column, while the long partially sunken house is defined by a long retention wall. The stainless steel details, windows and formwork are shared between both structures, all designed by the architects. The experience of the houses differ in the way that the structural solutions create two different climates and relationships with the slope, one closer to the ground, and the other elevated and more open. The gardens link both houses, and the same details and materials in outdoor areas are used indoors, which is part of the experiment in making the houses feel larger.
The two structures behave a s single house; therefore, they are not an exercise in minimal living, but rather an experiment on how to satisfy the needs of a larger space by relying on the gardens as spaces that can complement the interiors. Both structures offer completely different atmospheres by employing opposite ways to relate to the slope and the carefully designed gardens.

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