- Team: José Loyo, Cristina Salazar, Diego Quilatuña, Jhosue Cabascango, Bryan Vinueza
- Design And Construction Of The 63m2 Duplex: RAMA Estudio + El Sindicato Arquitectura
- City: Quito
- Country: Ecuador
Text description provided by the architects. The project is developed in the neighborhood of Guápulo in Quito, it is an old indigenous settlement that went from being a town on the outskirts of the city to becoming an urban neighborhood with a heterogeneous population. Most of the houses are self-built and housed extended families. With the passage of time, they became rental houses mainly for artists, migrants, tourists, and students.
The proposal was to reform the 40-year-old self-made rental house containing nine housing spaces, three commercial spaces, and three bathrooms that were shared by the flowing community that inhabited the house. The pre-existing construction was in a precarious condition and had to be subjected to a study and structural reform. Due to this, the property was partially abandoned. The intention of the reform was to minimize the investment required to recover the spaces and make them safe and of higher spatial quality for the reinsertion of new uses and inhabitants.
The pre-existing construction was built in stages and each one with different materials and construction systems, including adobe, rammed earth, concrete slabs, wooden mezzanines, block, zinc, brick, tile, etc. The response to this variety of materials was to respect all of them and to work on details for each of the spaces.
We take the rental house as a case study of discovery, removing layers and adding utilitarian elements. We wanted to prove that self-built elements, currently abandoned and precarious, can be reformed and re-inhabited with a low budget, opening the range of options for other highly deteriorated houses in the sector. The rental house was understood from the perspective of the neighborhood, taking into consideration its mixed uses where various activities can be developed along the slope and the terraces of the project. The reforming investments are mostly focused on the interiors of habitable spaces and the exteriors are the result of the appropriation of the neighbors who will gradually keep improving them.
The existing structure is mixed, it does not respond to structural axes, and was developed according to the needs of the family during 40 years of construction. The structural reform focuses on lightening the construction, removing everything that adds weight to the structure, spatial purification, surface components, and coatings. Subsequently, new pieces of metal are attached as porticos that reinforce the facades and tie together the mezzanine to form a single structural body.
Most of the surfaces had humidity due to not allowing the load-bearing rammed earth walls that are close to the hill to breathe. This generated water chambers in the walls. For this reason, the coatings were removed and the walls were ventilated. The earth from the location itself was used as a pigment and raw material for the manufacturing of earth paint that was used for covering the surfaces and unifying the materials.
All the existing wood was recovered through a treatment process based on natural oils and pesticides, and the pieces with openings were reinforced. The floors were reconfigured, polished, and reused.
The only piece added to the house was a modular space with the possibility of disassembling it if required. The pieces are standardized and assembled by means of screws. This module generates a framework that unites the rear garden attached to the hill and the view of the Tumbaco valley.