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2014 MCHAP

Entre Muros House

Al Borde

Quito, Ecuador



David Barragán Pascual Gangotena


Bolívar Romero (Tecnic Consultant. Specialist in earth construction)


Carla Flor


AL BORDE Raed Gindeya


Our client is a single mother with two kids. There is not a big age gap between the mother and the sons; they spend a lot of time together, concerts, wanderings, lot of family activities. Once they are in their house, they like to be independent from one another; a small gathering place and distinct individual spaces for each one. The place where the house was built is distant from the city. The isolation from the usual construction materials means we won’t be able to fit the needs of the family unless we don’t think the usual way. The economic limits leave us to a time before technological “improvements”, a time where there were no green labels o leed certificates. Back then; the essential problems were mostly the same but the solutions were more based on common sense rather than any other thing. And so, just like magic, in our search of economic feasibility, we complete another key request form our client: the search to live in harmony with nature. The house is located in a high slope terrain; we will need to do a horizontal cut in it. This action will produce a lot of soil, with this soil we will build walls; the house walls: a house between walls.


We focus our efforts on thinking. Kill two birds with one stone, three birds, four, the more the better. We wonder how to solve the maximum quantity of problems with the minimum quantity of resources, actions, elements. For that, we spend a lot of time understanding the problem and all the implications around it, constant meetings with the client help us understand their particular and specific way of thinking: "There is always another way of doing things and another way for living" she told us. The project is a house. We believe that architecture can transcend the limits we have imposed to it and get closer to life. We look for a home as a reflection of the human beings inhabiting it, an architecture that not only represents them but one that influences their life. This house is for a middle class family, it is built in a common site of the South American Andean highlands. The cost of the land was $16 USD per square meter, the budget for the house was $300 USD per square meter. We don’t picture ourselves as artists seeking for beauty. We like to see ourselves as explorers, investigators, problem solvers.


The earth walls solve all our client needs. First of all they provide the structure and are designed to support an earthquake; the location is an earthquake hazard zone. But because of the construction technology, rammed earth, they also provide a massive privacy filter from one room to another. And also because there is no main structure material to buy and no main transportation involved, the construction is much cheaper than a conventional housing solution for this environment. Finally we dig little holes in the walls to complete most of the storage required. We try to turn our “third world” usual deficiencies as efficiencies. If we think of conventional architecture, we don’t have any skill labor. But if we think in a vernacular Andean architecture, the Andes have the best labor in the world. If we try to achieve the perfectly clean and smooth final finish of the advanced techniques we will fail, if we try to be ourselves we will feel relax and happy. The house does not compete with nature or avoids it. A house in the mountains built with the mountain itself. We think of each element as a part of something bigger. From the human family who thinks of them as a part of the world and not as the owner of it, to the wall that faces the cut in the mountain and allows the runoff water to keep flowing between the stones through the corridor canal that provides access to all spaces.

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