Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura

Casa Ocal is a eucalyptus-wood house in the Ecuadorian mountains

Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura designed Casa Ocal to suit its hard-to-reach location in the mountains in the north of Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian architecture practice used eucalyptus wood and recycled metal for the gabled structure.

Casa Ocal viewed in the mountains
Casa Ocal is in the Ecuadorian Andes

Casa Ocal is raised on pilotis to allow rainwater to flow unobstructed down the hill beneath the house. The stilts also allowed for the creation of a level ground floor without any laborious and costly excavation.

Its gable end faces down the slope and is formed of a large covered porch that frames views of the mountains.

Exterior of Casa Ocal
The house is raised on small stilts

Because of the difficulties presented by the location, the architects decided to whittle their design down to the simplest of forms and build it in a modular fashion.

"We were asked to build a 110-square-metre house with a minimum budget, in a hard-to reach-place in the Ecuadorian mountains," said the studio.

"During the whole challenge, we tried to reduce the complexity of the construction system and minimise the amount of disruption."

Front porch of Casa Ocal
Metal steps lead up to the front porch

Construction for Casa Ocal took just five months. The beams and joists are made of eucalyptus wood, a tree species that was originally brought over from Australia but now grows in Ecuador's tropical hills.

Eucalyptus was also used for the tongue and groove cladding around the exterior.

Porch of Casa Ocal
The porch is covered on three sides

Recycled metal was turned into the steps that lead up from the ground to the house's front porch, as well as the back door and a third door in the middle of one side.

Wide landscape windows running down both sides of the house let in light and provide views of the mountains. The porch is sheltered entirely by the roof and sides of the house, and has a glazed balustrade.

View from the porch to the house
A corridor runs from door to door through the house

Inside, the house is split by a central corridor from the front to the back door. An open plan kitchen and living space open on to the porch, with the kitchen occupying one side.

Reclaimed metal has also been used for the kitchen cupboards, countertops and splashback, its weathered surface providing a dark contrast to the light timber walls.

Kitchen of Casa Ocal made from recycled metal
Reclaimed metal forms the kitchen counters

Floor-to-ceiling glass between the living area and the porch allows for more views of the landscape. On the other side of the room, a corner is occupied by a wood-burning stove with a metal chimney.

Beyond the communal areas, a corridor divides three bedrooms and a bathroom, which features a bowl-style sink.

Living area od Casa Ocal
Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a stove

Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura was founded by Jorge Ramón Giacometti and the practice is based in Quito.

More residential projects in Edcuador include this prefabricated cabin made of recyclable materials and a house screened by tiles hung on steel cables.

Photography is by Claudia Muñoz Karig.


Project credits:

Architect: Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Architect in charge: Jorge Ramón Giacometti
Design team: Gabriel Utreras Betancourt, María Fernanda Pineda, Emmanuelle Treviño
Engineering: Patricio Cevallos

More images and plans

Plans for Casa Ocal by Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Floor plan
Plans for Casa Ocal by Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Section
Plans for Casa Ocal by Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Elevation
Plans for Casa Ocal by Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Elevation
Plans for Casa Ocal by Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura
Elevation