Breakthroughs come when we dispel our reliance on the conventional, no matter how strange our ideas may seem at first. A new house in Pifo, Ecuador demonstrates what happens when you experiment with the notion of walls, giving inhabitants a novel way to interact with their environment while keeping them safe from the elements.
The “House of Flying Tiles” contains surprises and delights at practically every turn. Some observers, approaching its exterior screen of clay tiles dangling from wires, find it very strange. What could the purpose of this contraption possibly be? Is it purely artistic? Not exactly. It defines a small area of the yard for private lounging without cutting off access to fresh air and views of the sky, while simultaneously shading a facade that consists almost entirely of glass. But it also sets the mood for a quirky residence designed for optimal engagement with nature — and optimal daylight for reading.
Architect Daniel Moreno Flores made it his mission to ensure the house was highly customized to his clients, expressing their unique identity while meeting all their needs and desires. For starters, the setting needed to remain as pristine as possible, with not a single tree removed to make way for the house. Ultimately, “House of Flying Tiles” was oriented to views of the adjacent mountains above all else. Thankfully, privacy is not much of an issue its rural location, making all of those glazed walls more livable than they might seem.
Flores explains that “the design of the house was born in a search of the essence of the owner, for which it is inquired on many of the topics related to it. From that essence, [I] identified a lot of creativity, a playful spirit, innocence, exploratory features, surprise seeking, sensory experiences, aim to discover, valuing processes, [and an] interest in mutations and changes in space. In this process, much of the characteristics of the owner’s character were absorbed and personal meanings were worked on. Due to the passion of the owner for the illustrations, it was established that it was fundamental to get involved in the owner’s logic and make illustrations as a design methodology (a book was made).”
“After understanding this constellation of ideas, we sought to encourage spaces that allow timelessness so that the owner was able to immerse in reading. These spaces seek an intensification in the relationship with some externalities such as the mountain, the low vegetation, the sky, and the Guirachuro (a local bird species). For the location of the house, an event was held with the owner in which we met to be able to witness the sunrise. This was fundamental to understand where the sun rises and to have that relationship in mind during the whole project.”
The house makes use of abundant natural and local materials like Abeto wood, reclaimed eucalyptus staves from an older home in the city, and clay tiles. The slanting planes of its exterior create diagonal lines connecting to the views or nearby trees and give the house a dynamic feel. All of its volumes are arranged in a way that creates “spaces that are discovered” as you enter. Even the angles at which light will enter the house at different times of year have been considered, with some glass configured so that rays of sunlight will enter the home vertically on the equinoxes.
The living room, dining area, and kitchen on the home’s lower level are bright and. A private, darker chamber containing the bedroom and bathroom is also set within this main volume, its roof creating one of the upper platforms and its exterior covered in open shelving. In place of conventional doors, bookcases and panels slide to reveal access.
To get to the office area one level up, simply pull down a set of ladder-like steps, and swing them back up again when they aren’t needed. A second, higher interior platform contains a reading nook, and yet another ladder grants access to the roof.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that there’s certainly no shortage of heights and angles from which to enjoy the land in this house.