Natura by Diez + Muller Arquitectos
The Tumbaco Valley:
Natura is located in the valley of Tumbaco, 24 km from the city of Quito. Since this valley is at a lower altitude than the city, it has a remarkable climate and natural conditions. For this and other reasons, it has become a highly developed residential zone, achieving in recent years a significant population growth.
The vast majority of people who inhabit the valley work in the city, which has meant that this area is being transformed into a small dormitory town. This results in long journeys, vehicular congestion, pollution, and an extended development, lacking services and equipment.
The project emerges from the interest of a group of people to attack this problem. Thus, a mixed-use building is proposed (offices and housing), promoting specific concepts: work close to home, work and live in contact with nature, and consolidation of the city.
The project is developed on a 2500 m2 plot. This property, like the neighboring properties, has an important natural heritage: ceibos, jacaranda, acacias, carobs, and avocados of several decades of existence.
The immediate environment of the land stands out for being a quiet place and in process of consolidation.
Natura seeks to insert itself in this context silently, avoiding the highlight and trying to engage in a subtle way, but at the same being a predecessor for future projects, by defining borders and improving spaces facing the street.
Footprint and Topography:
First of all, the three-story building recognizes the location of the existing trees and vegetation. Since most of these are located on the perimeters of the property, the built volume respects them and is arranged in the central part of the land, releasing its front, rear and side boundaries. The trees that cannot be saved are moved to a nursery until they are relocated again in the project after construction.
The built mass leaves a large interior space (atrium) which becomes the heart of the office part of the project.
The land has a negative slope in the longitudinal direction. The building adapts in sections to the natural levels of the land, in such a way to be able to conserve the intact plant species, as well as, achieve a succession of spaces at different levels that contribute to the experience of routes and circulations of the building.
Every day we see with great concern, a city where buildings are walled toward the street, and users do not permeate it. Faced with this reality, Natura proposes a building that invites you to enter and encourages you to discover it. The stairs and a horizontal “band” on the facade, hint at the access. Once you walk through a single-story compressed space, the project is entered through a large atrium. This atrium becomes a connector space. A space that generates paths and promotes encounters between users, through horizontal and vertical circulations of different types. In addition, the building manages to establish connections between the private and public, between exterior and interior spaces, in order to grant physical, visual, and sensory relationships.
Architecture and environment:
The project relies on architectural strategies to reduce the environmental impact:
-Materiality and resources: The use of materials such as brick, concrete, wood, and metal is chosen. These materials are worked and found regularly in the local environment and have the virtue of being timeless options that will gain quality over time.
-Thermal control: Since in the valley of Tumbaco, temperatures of up to 28 ° C can be reached, the solar incidence on the east-west facades has been taken care of by controlled openings and metal frames that reduce the entry of direct sun during the morning and the afternoon. Likewise, roofed terraces, balconies, and courtyards appear both in offices and apartments and work as cross-ventilation devices for most interior spaces. The atrium has skylights that bathe the interior space with light. To generate thermal control, this space is open to the back garden, achieving passive air ventilation throughout the day and night.
-Landscaping: Landscape design was a key part of the project. With the selection of endemic species, we ensure good results, minimum maintenance, reduction of disease risks, and integration with the landscape.
Architecture and society
Aware of the impact that architecture generates on people, we have planned a building that generates healthy spaces for its users. Spaces endowed with vegetation and light, with generous shared spaces for communal interaction. They are also versatile spaces that can be used by the community as places for exhibition, health, culture, and art.
Photography courtesy of Diez + Muller Arquitectos