2022

MCHAP

Huaira 01

Diana Salvador & Javier Mera

La Abundancia - Puerto Quito, Ecuador

February 2020

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Diana Salvador & Javier Mera

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Yess Innovation, Patricio Cevallos, Juan Subía

CLIENT

Diana Salvador and daughters, Ema and Olivia

PHOTOGRAPHER

Juan Alberto Andrade Guillen

OBJECTIVE

The cabin could be used as a residence or as a tourist accommodation. It was conceived to satisfy housing needs with economically and environmentally sustainable premises.
The spatial organization generates a loft with two storeys and three general areas: bathroom and living area located in the floor plan and the sleeping area at the top floor. In addition; the furniture design allows the living area to accommodate an extra resting space. Interior areas offer a main service, while simultaneously connecting with the exterior areas. Every design decision responds to the challenge of transforming the mere functionality of the space to the experimentation with common experiences, while achieving maximum efficiency. For instance, taking a shower allows the user to gain knowledge about cocoa, one can count stars before falling asleep, and cooking could transform into meditation exercises.
The efficiency of the unit is also reflected in the construction system; six materials: plywood, solid wood, stone, metal, glass and tetrapack intervene to consolidate an environmentally balanced element. Plywood is the main material of the unit, with Tetra Pak acting as the “umbrella material” that waterproofs the cabin. Along with these characteristics, prefabrication techniques are validated through a predefined number of pieces conforming the unit, which can be transported in a simple truck, assembled in 15 days by 5 people.
Plywood board measurements defined the module and its characteristics determined a production line, which finally allowed a considerable optimization of social, economic and environmental resources within the construction and operation process.

CONTEXT

In this case, the client and one of the designers are the same person. Huaira was created as a refuge outside the city. Both designers cannot conceive architecture that is not responsible for the environment, so it was crucial to develop an alternative to the traditional constructive systems, in order to become guardians for future generations, and the quality of the environment left for them.
Huaira is also economically sustainable, allowing the owners to obtain an extra income when they are not occupying the unit, in order to finance the process. Huaira can be rented, offered as a touristic getaway and communicating an important message: ".. people tend to protect and restore the natural world when they feel connected with nature...". Huaira intends to create a halo effect that connects people to nature. Such connection invokes responsibility and it can potentially lead to action.
Bioclimatic construction strategies based on dynamic thermal simulations were proposed, in order to combine functionality with interior comfort. The structure is elevated due to the resilience needed because of the river flooding, taking advantage of the inertia and the cold air chamber generated under the unit. Walls and roofs are designed as double layers containing the structural beams, generating an extra air chamber that guarantees the adequate interior ventilation, in cooperation with floor and wall perforations that enable cross ventilation and air supply. The removable double layer solution of the roof allows the control of direct sunlight and allows the connection with the sky and the environment.

PERFORMANCE

Compared to a conventional construction system, Huaira obtains an encouraging result with a negative carbon footprint, sequestering 3360 kg and emitting 1679 kg of carbon dioxide. Huaira’s carbon footprint was evaluated through a cradle-to-cradle approach. Construction materials used for implementing the unit were quantified and the respective impact, using a life-cycle inventory database (Ecoinvent V.3), was evaluated.
As the assessment of the project was focused on the carbon footprint, the climate change impact indicator (as defined in IPCC 100y) for each type of material was directly used. This evaluation for the embodied carbon in materials was then completed by the potential GHG emissions to be generated during operation.
The building is located in a warm area, hence does not require heating; additionally, the development of specific ventilation strategies made it possible to avoid the need of air conditioning, leading to a reduced energy consumption. Wood is the main material used, allowing a large sequestration of carbon through the building construction. This quantity exceeds the amount of “positive emissions” generated by the building life-cycle, allowing it to achieve a negative carbon footprint.
While the carbon used in construction and operation is compensated by the sequestered carbon in the wood, design guidelines were established in order to achieve a highly efficient process. Simple strategies that create a low cost, replicable, adaptable to weather conditions, scalable, modular, expandable and removable local technology. A strategy based on the radical decision to use Plywood as the basis of this technology.