Homes don’t come much more minimal than the Los Faiques Dwellings.
Situated in the subtropical Yunguilla valley, 60km away from the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, and 1400 meters above sea level, the series of dwellings were built in 2011 by Duran & Hermida arquitectos asociados, a practice founded by Javier Durán and María Augusta Hermida which works mostly across Ecuador.
It’s sometimes difficult to identify particular highlights of a minimalist design, since of course the whole idea is that there isn’t much detail. However, one of our favourite touches is the kitchen work top: comprised of a wooden surface, and a marble block for the cooking hob, it cantilevers from a single corner support. Such an arrangement really emphasises the bulkiness of the materials used.
Another fine minimalist detail is the sheer consistency of the colour palette. For the most part it consists of white, and a bit of black, occurring between the wood stained in a light brown polish.
But the most strikingly minimal aspect of each contemporary style home is how few barriers exist between indoor and outdoor space. Indeed, even from their very heart, it’s possible to proceed uninterrupted to the outdoors, thus creating a pure in-between space, neither indoors nor outdoors.
This is emphasised by large roof overhangs. Cantilevering from a well concealed foundation, and further supported by a series of slender steel pillars, each roof extends well beyond the interior, and appears as if floating delicately off the ground.
But while the house might be open, the almost complete lack of landscaping means that there is a very clear line drawn between the structure, and the environment in which it is situated. In fact, it’s such a clear juxtaposition that you’d be forgiven for thinking the homes were just stopping for a rest en route to their final destination.
This isn’t such a bad thing. The stark contrast, heightens the dramatic simplicity of the house. And when combined with the home’s openness, the contrast also serves to cast more focus on the complex textures of the environment in which the home is located.
Speaking of which, the dwellings get their name from the beautiful Faique trees scattered around the site. Due to their habit of producing large thorns from their branches, as well as the fact that they don’t bear fruit, it is common practice for the locals of the area to cut down these trees. But the architects were careful to retain them.
It is moves like this which reveal the clarity of their vision. Sure, they didn’t use landscaping, but they clearly care about the landscape.
In their own words Duran & Hermida’s contemporary home design philosophy centres on “rigor, precision, economy and universality… in the here and now.” They really live up to these lofty ideals with this project.
Photos by Sebastián Crespo