Norwegian architecture studio LCLA Office and architect Clara Arango have created a house on the slopes of the Andes that blurs the boundaries between architecture and the environment. It was erected as an ideal frame for nature, where wild vegetation is complemented by the plantings of landscape designers.
Ballen House in Colombia consists of two separate buildings located at an altitude of 2100 meters above sea level. They are located in a forest clearing and are connected by a path that runs along a large garden. The large house is divided into two parts, each of which is located in the best possible way in this topography. Once the valley was used for grazing, which made it possible to change the landscape and design new gardens linking both structures.
One house rises four meters above the ground on a cruciform column, and the other – long and partially buried – is fixed by a retaining wall. These design solutions reveal two different approaches to working with a slope: the volume that is closer to the ground seems to be cavernous in nature, and the other is airy. Both structures have a different emotional atmosphere. However, the materials chosen for the two buildings are the same: concrete formwork, stainless steel fittings, and repetitive window profiles. This turned out to be a justified decision because, with small areas (a raised house of only 60 square meters, and a long house – of 75 square meters), the interiors seem more spacious.
The gardens around look exotic. The fact is that they were planted with plants characteristic of a much higher climatic zone. Wild orchids, bromeliads, and other small species are selected for their resemblance to alpine plants. In the cold mountain climate, the designers managed to grow a unique set of plants. This is a real experiment, where gardens are used as an extended space that complements the interiors.
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