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  6. Flex / Studio Gil

Flex / Studio Gil

  • 01:00 - 12 June, 2009
Flex / Studio Gil
Flex / Studio Gil

Flex / Studio Gil Flex / Studio Gil Flex / Studio Gil Flex / Studio Gil +15

  • Architects

  • Location

    Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
  • Architects

    Studio Gil with Max Rengifo
  • Executive Architect

    Luis Bueno
  • Structural Engineer

    Mauricio Drada
  • Area

    260.0 sqm

From the architect. Studio Gil is an exciting new practice focusing on design and dynamic solutions.

One of our first projects, ‘Flex’,  is a 260sqm, 3 storey single family house built in Palmira, Colombia.

Built using local construction techniques and local tradesmen, ‘Flex’ is a modern representation of a very traditional house.

The site is a 6m x 15m plot and lies in an urban location in the town of Palmira, Colombia. It sits in a terraced ‘slot’ effectively land-locked by adjacent buildings on 3 sides.

The second idea is of 2 courtyard lightwell spaces that flood every room in the house with natural light. The lightwells are open to the hot Colombian tropical climate bathing the house in sunlight as well as cooling and ventilating the building.

Cite: "Flex / Studio Gil" 12 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/24613/flex-studio-gil/>
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41 Comments

Christo Meyer · October 12, 2011

Flex (Palmira, Colombia) by Studio Gil @ArchDaily http://t.co/Ooq9Sptt

StudioGil · October 12, 2011

Flex (Palmira, Colombia) by Studio Gil @ArchDaily http://t.co/Ooq9Sptt

ELS · October 04, 2011

Flex / Studio Gil | ArchDaily http://t.co/0TJ0d68R via @archdaily

Lina · December 04, 2009

Completely no sense the composition of the elevation vs. function....just to much for that small plot.

Andrew Clarke · June 27, 2009

my mate's house got published in a Architecture website, the house is extremely cool http://bit.ly/foh8G

panamArq · June 18, 2009

Thanks for the support Pedro! You are a very brave architect for posting your belief in aesthetics! I am sure that if this post were not so old, you would be crucified by more than a few regular archDaily commentators!
Alejandro, I will look into the author you referenced.
I do think its amazing the dialogue that is able to happen on the web. I never meant to be hateful towards those who have reason behind their dislike for this project. However, it is unfortunate when those like "GG" who posted above claim "the finishes are hideous. the floor, the windows, the lack of handrail on those holes…" with no reason behind her comments or any suggestions on how to make it better.

DT · June 17, 2009

South Korea vs. T&T makes your point absolutely clear, architecture-wise (and I really do hope this isn't your overall perspective on life, for God's sake!).
As of me, I'd rather not waste my time with the baser expressions, in general. No Caribbean soccer, that is. It's always better, I guess, to aim at the highest standards. But - it's true - not all of us have to ride the same coach. Why bother with the fine wines and good food, when there's always time for a sloppy burger anyway? And why discuss the aforementioned ciriticism (clear, objective points related with culture, climate, materials and regulations) when you can use a backdoor exit and simply call on others to share their compassion and curiosity admiring the novelties that arise like fungi in an underdeveloped-controlled-lablike space that painfully wills to look like the center itself?
Yes: In the end, SK vs. T&T is really too clear, and I'll leave it at that.
Unbelievable as it may seem, some people just can't seem to appreciate the qualities which enhance our lives...

Pedro Gil_Studio Gil · June 17, 2009

I feel I have to comment as PanamArq is defending my corner and taking some unfair heat from other posters on this thread.

One really positive aspect that I can take from this is the genuine architectural dialogue developing across the internet - something I did not anticipate. I view all criticism, whether in support or against, as a positive influence - a way to move forward. In this spirit of architectural dialogue, I would like to repond to DT and to an extent Alejandro.

DT: whilst I may not have your knowlege of Latin American architecture, I find it intersting that many of your references (Corb,Khan, Barragan), although undoubeted masters, are backward looking.Don't get me wrong, I am a huge admirer of Le Corbusier and Luis Barragan, but it strikes me that you miss a fundamental point about architecture - that it is progressive.
Your early postings about the living model in Valley of Cauca for me highlight this - they suggests that everything must conform to old rules, that because certain ways of living are established they must be correct. This argument suggests there is no room for the progressive or alternative.

I would like to table a thought - That contemporary is not scary.

I would like to table a second thought (perhaps controversially) - that aesthetics play a huge part in modern architecture - and this is not a bad thing.

Peter Cook, one of the modern progressive greats, often talks about 'the eye'. By this he refers to things that look good, things that in DT's opinion would be “contemporariness” in Cook's world would be a joy. I would like to draw your attention to the texts of CJ Lim and Christine Hawley who also endorse 'the eye'. For the record, I endorse 'The Eye' - it is nothing to be ashamed of, to create things that are aesthetically pleasing.

I admit, 'Flex' has many flaws, which project doesn't? but it was never intended to be the perfect house (le Corbusier beat us all to it). The intention of 'Flex' was very much to design something progressive (that's why the plan looks that way) and to design something for 'the eye' (that's why the facade looks like that). It was also attempting to break barriers and stereotypes in Palmira - which I believe it may have started doing as some recent house developments are taking and borrowing from 'Flex'. I don't for a second suggest it is a masterpiece, but I do suggest it is different.

It would be a very boring world if we were only ever offered the same option over and over again. Especially if those options were always looking to the past, not to the posibilities of forward.

I am a huge believer in learning from masters - but the masters are masters for a reason - because they were progressive.

alejandro · June 17, 2009

I agree with you in that you cannot judge Studio Gil on the same scale as Kahn or Le Corbusier
-or putting it in other terms you cannot compare Studio Gil with other more experienced local professionals, be it in Colombia, Argentina or México.
However, I do think that even in these post modern globalized crisis époque understating where we are in a deep intellectual level-meaning understanding local culture, history, society, economics, materials, zeitgeist, etc. is the best way to built a better society/architecture.
I have recently read a really good book (Arquitectura Descentrada) about that, it explains in view of the author Mariana Weissmann the relationships that exists between Latin American architecture production (in a historic and contemporary perspective) and the main centers of conceptual and technological production up to the 90´s (meaning Europe and the States) . In Arquitectura decentrada Marina makes the obvious point that we Latin Americans are not equal, meaning that not everything was made in the same way in our different countries, at the same time and with the same technology. More over that modernity arrived differently and was appropriated in different ways. Example: Barragán in Mexico is important architecturally wise because he reflected the intangible values of Mexican architecture but with a modern spatial discourse, in Colombia Rogelio Salmona did the same, in Brazil Niemeyer expressed that open plan sensuality Brazilians love, etc. But for instance to make the opposite case Argentineans are a bit crap- they are too European to notice that there not in Europe and be able to produce something original/local.
It´s clear to me what architecture should be, it´s not an image or a plan, and we aren’t all snobs getting high on esthetics or functionality in the internet.

PanamArq · June 17, 2009

you can not judge Studio Gil on the same scale as Kahn and Le Corbusier. Neither can you group every latin american country together. The problem with viewing architecture via the internet is that you lose context. Is this house better than other houses posted on archDaily? NO! But it shouldn't be judged against them. It should be judged against its neighbors. (No, this isn't affirmative action Alejandro)
Let's use football as an example... Don't you enjoy watching the South Korean national team play against the Trinidad and Tobago national team every so often? The games are enjoyable even if they are not fundamentally perfect or by the most skilled players in the world. If we were only to watch the best footballers and scorn the rest, we would be stuck watching the same top teams over and over again. Yes, its beautiful football but it is the same beautiful football over and over again. Isn't it exciting to see some country over achieve and surprise you?
I am simply happy to see more quality coming from this area of the world at this time period. I understand it is not a masterpiece, but I still enjoy it. is there a problem with that??? i just wish that it wasn't only the architecture snobs who posted here. everybody else speak up!

DT · June 16, 2009

If PanamArq wasn't as ignorant as he believes we are, he would know the astonishing work of such firms as Borrero Zamorano and Giovanelli; Lago & Saenz; Zornosa, O'Byrne & Tascon and Samuel Garcia - great Colombian architects working in the Cali - Palmira area after the late 50s. Not to mention german architect Leopoldo Rother's wonderful School of Agriculture, in this same town.
If he wasn't so excited by Gil's masterpiece, he would then be able to see some amazing architecture, with facades far, far better than this clumsy exhibition of "contemporariness", with a climate and culture conscious design reflected in the beauty of the overall design (materials included).
It is easy for others to criticize us simply because we don't share their enthusiasm. The argument of ignorance is definitely absurd - childlike even.
Believing poverty necessarily equals poor quality standards is extremely weak as an argument. Van Eyck in Africa, Corbusier in India, Kahn in Pakistan, Barragan in Mexico, Dieste in Uruguay, and a huge etcetera could lecture any first world architect in material quality.
As of PanamArq, I guess emotion seems to blind those who have an overwhelming faith in a poor "zeitgeist", consisting - such is the case of runway models, pop icons and movie stars - in the sad illusion that a beautiful box or a fancy ribbon need to be loftier than the gift they wrap.
Simple taoism for the igonrant: we build with walls, but what makes a building useful is the space inside.

alejandro · June 16, 2009

In any case (being the devil´s advocate) it would seem that Panamarq is saying that Latin American architecture needs some kind of affirmative action policy to be able to compete in equal terms with better off nations.
I personally don´t think so, as I said before it´s not merely a question of bad economics and lots of bravery, it´s more a lack of a well thought project , which means that even though the conditions were not optimal the ideas succeeded in being well delivered.
Besides, this is not concluding, for sure Studio Gill next project will be different, probably better. We must remember that this forum is of ideas and opinions not of people.

PanamArq · June 16, 2009

I still love this house and a give lots of credit to Studio Gil! People don't understand the difficulty of building in a non-first world country without wealthy clients.
It is very brave of studio-gil and their client to attempt to build this structure. Most new buildings in these areas are either completely sealed air-conditioned boxes or carbon copies of north american suburban housing. There is very little attempt at innovation or creating quality buildings. Shame on those ignorant few who say that this project shouldn't be posted on ArchDaily.

DT · June 16, 2009

I am surprised by the fact that so many people become impressed with the simplest and most irrelevant builidings. This is just your everyday house between median walls present in any developing country in the world; simply "enhanced" with a "contemporary" facade and a HUGE explanation (graphic, conceptual, etc.) to make it supposedly interesting.

I guess if some artists are allowed to sell their own canned feces, any architect sell his own, behind a cute front wall. It's all in the way you sell it to the public, isn't it?

The plan shows a complete ignorance of local cultural patterns (have these guys ever heard about Mr. Alexander?). Open kitchens and sleeping rooms in every floor, even next to the kitchen, are clearly contrary to the residential habits of the Cauca Valley inhabitants, used to clear functional divisions between social, private and service areas in their houses; even when they're poor.

Not to mention issues of climate and light, which are unsolved. Small inner - courts are useless in a tropical region where the median temperature is close to 100oF day and year long.

I wonder, finally, how the designers managed to build a new-three-story-single-family without any parking space. Local regulations are clear on this point; which allows me to believe this was built without legal permits.

Is everybody still thinking a "cool" facade immediately means global interest and internet relevance? As for me, I rather stick to the old stuff: wonderful plans, great spaces, fine details and an overall strong intellectual excercise, accounting for culture, climate, rules and regulations and the almost infinite number of things great architecture has always been known to solve - when it's good architecture, that is... Something which this "flex" is definitely not!

George · June 16, 2009

Pedro - I really appreciate your commenting. Its fantastic to have an actual dialogue occurring, world wide no less - Cheers to that!

alejandro · June 15, 2009

First of all I completely agree with Paco.
Gill: I insist upon the idea that modest/local construction techniques should not be an architect’s excuse, in other words in my opinion this project suffers from wanting to be something it could not be. Either economically and conceptually wise or even regarding it´s context: client, city, climate, local urban laws; thus in my opinion poor choice of materials mean unwise judgment, perhaps a bit foolish and imprudent but above all it lacks discretion and wisdom.
For me really good architecture has a sense of being thought as a whole, has unity. Trying to build that with limit resources in such a context should make the architect rethink its strategy, perhaps with fewer gymnastics, without stopping to be modern but looking with a critical eye towards the local traditional architecture, its construction methods and it´s materials.
In such a context : ‘Latin American modern cheap baroque’ it could have been better perhaps to suggest a modest facade (since the floor plans are really simple in their intentions compared to the facade) which emphasized the opposite thus establishing a better spatial relationship with the neighbors facades, regarding finishing’s instead of putting a cheap ceramic tile you could have the actual cement floor as your final finish just adding some cheap mineral color or cement aggregate, resulting in a cheaper monolithic floor without any ugly unthought-of floor expansion joints. And if your esthetic intentions were the ceramic tile finish with all those joints, perhaps if it was actually thought and not just placed randomly it would have been better.
Ending in a higher note, as a conclusion I must say it´s nevertheless architecture - far better than the surroundings and Gill it´s obvious you have lots of ideas- keep at it.

ray · June 15, 2009

two sides of the wall.l love it

Paco Dubois · June 15, 2009

Maybe is a good idea, and off course the house is better than the other ones in the neighborhood …but this project is not good enough to be posted here, there are so many good projects in Colombia, this one seems to be very normal….

And sincerely modest budget can’t be the excuse.

Drawings are better….

Luke · June 14, 2009

I live in Vietnam where the plot dimensions are similar (4m x 20m) I am not an architect, and I don't understand how the courtyard lightwells work. Is there something special about the angles that guides light to every room? How do they cool a house? Thanks in advance for an explanation.

http://www.archdaily.com/24613...

Lilith · June 14, 2009

I like what I see, but I'd like to see more interior shots, it's difficult to get a sense of the interior spaces from the sections which all focus on the light well and flexing walls - both great ideas, which I'm sure make the interiors livable breathing spaces. Regardless of the choice of materials, it is refreshing to see a project that isn't all about the same old polished finishes! I don't believe the superficial / 'superficie' is so important in this project. I bet the Client / occupiers love it, so who gives a damn about pickety critics? Bravo Senor Arquitecto. Un opera de arte!

cabarch · June 13, 2009

great proyect

16:08:78 · June 13, 2009

Sorry Mr. Architect but thanks for sharing.

This would have been a great building if the architect only would’ve put more effort into its details. Indeed it lacks many. This vague effort is evident when analyzing the plans and section provided. Pops out the fact that it its off balance design, more toward the elaborated façade and less toward the unrelated interior, instead, it is chose to insert a storage wall in an attempt to integrate the “in” with the “out”. Sorry Mr. Architect this alone does not do it.

Also budget and unskilled workforce should never be a reason not to come up with a creative solution, to a fairly small problem.

D.Cacho

JuanLuisBurke · June 13, 2009

God, I see so many projects here in Mexico that look so much like this one... The exact same finishes, the same style, colors, handling of the volumes. I can't stand it really! The floor tiles are indeed horrible, so are the railings in the windows, the kitchen. If I was given the choice between those tiles and some polished concrete, I'd go for the latter anytime, for example, and why not design the kitchen cabinets instead of buying that ugly one? That "terrace" on top of the house, or whatever it is, it looks like it's not even finished, there are no pictures of that part of the house either. I just saw the TDA house by Cadaval and Sola Morales, featured on some AD round up about beach houses, I think that is a good example of doing more with less money and more design, for instance.

Pedro Gil_Studio Gil · June 13, 2009

I’m the Architect that designed the House :)

PamArq, Luis: thank you for your positive comments. Its very encouraging to hear positive feedback.

Some general comments about the project - Flex was designed on a VERY modest budget. The intention was always to design a house that could be built well by the local, generally untrained craftsmen of Palmira, Colombia. I believe in the final result this was acheived.

Alejandro: the ‘poor’ choice of materials which you refer to is probably a comment on budget rather than taste. As i mentioned, the house was designed and built on a very small budget,and assembled by local workers, so finishes had to be economical.

Richi, Reger:
‘the entire facade without windows’ comment is a bit harsh - ouch :). These were publicity photos, and for this, all the windows on the facade were opened during the shoot. I assure you there are indeed windows on the external facade.

All:
The ‘holes in the floor’ are actually an unbuilt phase of the project. These ‘holes’ are openings cutting through the house. Inside these openings will be placed a steel frame with timber boxed shelving. Diagram 04 in the drawings shows this. My apologies for any confusion.

Please keep your comments coming in, Its great to hear feedback from around the world.

aa4 · June 13, 2009

Bravo Pedro!

gg · June 13, 2009

the finishes are hideous. the floor, the windows, the lack of handrail on those holes...
maybe the photos are from an unfinished state of the construction.

Pedro Gil _Studio Gil · June 13, 2009

I'm the Architect that designed the House :)
PamArq, Luis: thank you for your positive comments. Its very encouraging to hear positive feedback.

Some general comments about the project - Flex was designed on a VERY modest budget. The intention was always to design a house that could be built well by the local, generally untrained craftsmen of Palmira, Colombia. I believe in the final result this was acheived.

Alejandro: the 'poor' choice of materials which you refer to is probably a comment on budget rather than taste. As i mentioned, the house was designed and built on a very small budget, so finishes had to be economical.

Richi, Reger:
'the entire facade without windows' comment is a bit harsh - ouch :). These were publicity photos, and for this, all the windows on the facade were opened during the shoot. I assure you there are indeed windows on the external facade.

All:
The 'holes in the floor' are actually an unbuilt phase of the project. These 'holes' are openings cutting through the house. Inside these openings will be placed a steel frame with timber boxed shelving. Diagram 04 in the drawings shows this. My apologies for any confusion.

Please keep your comments coming in, Its great to hear feedback from around the world.

colombiano · June 23, 2010 07:21 AM

Con todo el respeto...es vergonsozo que ud publique esto.
No demuestra en nada la buena calidad de nuestra arquitectura.
El costo nada tiene que ver con la calidad del producto, otra cosa es el problema de la manofactura que deja ver la falta de exigencia del arquitecto y un trabajo mediocre de supervision, sinceramente me da pena que el mundo vea este proyecto y mas que lo asocien con la arquitectura colombiana, pero lo que realmente me ofendio es que se atrevan a decir que es por la falta de mano de obra de calidad en el pais, nisiquiera y por ponerle un ejemplo, en villanueva cuya biblioteca se hizo con mano de obra local y materiales de la regin, que es en la mitad de la nada se vio algo tan horroroso y mal acabado como esto.
Perdon pero aca lo unico que se ve es un ejemplo del mal gusto y la falta de calidad del constructor y en nada deja ver la calidad de las construcciones del pais.

No puedo decir mas que.....lamentable.

guy · June 13, 2009

where's the fire pole? Not seeing much in the photos. Glass block skylight and faux something tiles are good choices? Combined with the lack of railing around the "holes" and the windowless facade make me wonder if they ran out of money. Windowless facade on it's own is not all bad and the extrusions are interesting.

richi · June 13, 2009

I like it, but the openings on the floor, even they look ok, they provide a visual vertical understanding of the total, seem low secure.Imagine walking in the night without light.Probably the risk is part of the proposal, but you don't necesarily destroy the idea if you control whit a nice grid for a handrail like the linear elements in the higher storie.That should look part of the total, playing with incorporing tha outside to inside.

panamArq · June 13, 2009

ahhh i apologize, i see what you mean with the facade w/o windows.... ooops

panamArq · June 13, 2009

yes, i agree the hole in the floors is a bit wacky and dangerous. a facade without windows though?? where?
working with local contractors in colombia is difficult. it is an unskilled workforce and to achieve this quality of work is impressive. i am still curious as to what unwisely choosen materials alejandro is talking about

Reger · June 13, 2009

Maybe if they show the finished work that could be understandable.(I mean, the hole in the floor, and the entire facade without windows).

panamArq · June 13, 2009

why though? yes, the floor and windows are not top quality, neither is the kitchen...but i think that is a worthy sacrifice. what are your specific problems with the project?

Doruk Özdemir · June 13, 2009

Flex / Studio Gil:
Architects: Studio Gil with Max Rengifo Location: Palmira, Colombia Executive Architect: Lui.. http://bit.ly/KO48l

alejandro · June 13, 2009

by poor I meant unwisely choice of materials

panamArq · June 13, 2009

poor materials? be more specific alejandro

Design Metafeed · June 13, 2009

#architecture Flex / Studio Gil:
Architects: Studio Gil with Max Rengifo Location: Palmira, Colomb.. http://bit.ly/KO48l

alejandro · June 13, 2009

poor choice of materials doesn´t mean modest/local construction techniques- sorry

Luis · June 13, 2009

simple but cool...nice drawings...

Ivan Costa · June 12, 2009

RT @archdaily: Flex / Studio Gil http://bit.ly/7zIrp

PanamArq · June 12, 2009

Thank you Studio Gil, its nice to see good design with modest construction techniques and finishes.
Are those actual holes in the floor though?? isn't that dangerous?

···

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