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Jose Maria Saez & David Barragan - Casa Pentimento

Jose Maria Saez & David Barragan

Casa Pentimento
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I realise that by now, may have seen this fantastic house, but perhaps further understanding could come from a translated text. Thanks to Plataforma Arquitectura again for the find.

Article by David Basulto [tricky]

1.1 Brief and Site Restrictions


With a wonderful garden and a fearless client the project called for a house that could be both a spiritual center and a silent retreat. The spirituality was to come from the surrounding through a design that is inserted into nature without competing with it, which is open to the temperate climate and the views of nearby volcano Ilaló.

1.2 Architectural Direction


Structural Blocks.
The project is generated from a single piece of prefabricated concrete, which can be use on any of its four axis and that creates structure, walls, furniture, ladders, even the front garden that is the focus of the project. Outside is a neutral grid that is camouflaged by fences or hedges. Inside, each wall is different as it fulfills various needs: scale, function, position, etc.
Without abandoning rigor and extreme simplicity, the assembly allows variability and adapts to the peculiarities of the project. Order and disorder are supported within a single system.

1.3 Surroundings


The architecture molds itself around the surrounding gardens. The exterior is a fabric, a wall, a hedge constructed by stacking containers. From the inside, the walls are a sieve that filters nature in. If the exterior is closed and conceals its scale, the interior is open and swells towards the views. The architecture molds its way over the land, breaking with the sharp slope, bypassing the trees or incorporating them into the building: the gardens are rooms of the house.

The interstices between prefabricated walls in turn filter in vegetation and light, the cracks are left open at some points and closed in others with a transparent or translucent acrylic and with strips of wood. These same cracks inside provide inserts for pieces of wood that becomes shelves, seating, tables and steps.

On the top floor the lookout walls are free of inserts and any secondary elements, allowing the passage of air and light, aligning the views of the distant mountains, concentrating on its role of linking users with their environment.

1.4 Construction

The prefabricated system rises from a concrete slab foundation. Parts are prefabricated on the ground with metal form work and placed in position over steel rods that are anchored with epoxy glue to the platform. These rods and the inserted elements between the units generate a tight structure of small columns and lintels especially well suited to the earthquake prone area.

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The house forgoes any exterior finishes for raw concrete. The foundation slab melts with black pigment and hardener to become the finished floor. The precast concrete block are also left raw internally, softening them are redwood, the green of oxidized copper flashing and the ever present vegetation.

1.5 The Blessings of a Low Budget


When asked of his "ideal style" American writer Joan Didion once responded: economy, simplicity and clarity. Here limiting economics happily leads in that direction. Limiting accessories, finding intensity through minimalism and simplifying construction processes. Working directly with the light, nature, temperate climate and available materials. Few materials, clarity for their use.

Liberating austerity, allowing the enjoyment, of a sensory connection with nature.

Architectural synthesis, which is held in a small number of its own laws. A single piece, a single stack of constructive action. An architecture diluted by nature, which is to the exterior is a vertical extension of the garden and inside, is furniture. A wall, forming a convergence between the environment and the owner.


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Architect: Jose Maria Sáez Vaquero, David Patrício Barragán Andrade
Collaborators: Alejandra Andrade, Héctor Sánchez
Protect Completed: August 2006
Constructed Area: 234.00 m2
Location: La Morita – Tumbaco, Quito, Ecuador
Material: Concrete, Acrylic and Redwood
via: and Plataforma Arquitectura


Harsh said…
sir, i am a student of architecture,student at CEPT school of architecture,currently on exchange student program at 'academy of fine arts,Vienna.i m very interested in the precast concrete system that the architect has used in for this projects.Can u send me some links of the prefabricated system?that'd be really great email id is -
Thank you for introducing this wonderful project.
Nick Allen said…
Hello Harsh,

There is a little more information on their website and a list of articles about the project here:

This is about all I know. My article actually comes from David Basulto, author at the great Chilean Site: Plataforma Arquitectura.


Anonymous said…
Hi I am currently in Quito and I am interested in other good examples of modern architectura that can be found here. I am aware of this project and of ArquitecturaX but little else. Thanks tom
Nick Allen said…
Hi Tom,

Gonzalo Diez -
is one other I've found with some good looking works.

His Range Rover sales room looks pretty cool too.


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