Ecoscope is a concept by which architecture is understood as a medium through which man [re]defines the relationship with his surroundings. The ecoscopic house is conceived as an interface, a formal complex optimized to channel the energy flows and harvest the material resources that traverse the site.
Space of flows_ The ecoscopic house is located in a suburb in the southern periphery of the city of Monterrey, at the foot of the sierra madre. This border condition demands of a renovated approach toward the relation between site and the surroundings in coming to do architecture. Such premise calls for an interpretation of site beyond the legal boundaries of the plot. An expanded definition of site calls for an understanding of site as an abstract multidimensional space, defined by the logic and logistics of a territory that manages the traffic of variable flows of resources at multiple scales; an ecosystem.
Form is not facile_
Form is understood as fundamental instigator of architectural possibility; form not as architectural gymnastics, but operative form, derived from gathered and accumulated intelligence on site. The act of building form becomes thus a process of deep adaptation to the site.
If the property (site) is understood within a network space (territory) bisected by multiple flows of energy and resources awaiting rationalization, architecture as the production of form is targeted to reorganize and optimize these flows for the benefit of its users.
The ecoscopic house, at the threshold between the natural and the artificial, between the city and the sierra, is imagined as an assemblage of platforms of interexchange that capture the flux of crossing ecosystems.
This outlook begs the [re]evaluation of certain questions; What is the meaning of local architecture? What is the relevance of contextualism in the global information age? Can this be considered a Mexican house?
The indigenous architecture of the ecoscopic house lands as a grassroots apparatus, oriented by local conditions, specifically responsive to available resources within the territory; a vernacular spacecraft…
The process of morphogenesis of the ecoscopic house is informed by multiple data input variables; geometric solar access, examination of thermal radiance in response to solar exposure and shadow analysis; analysis of prevailing winds, regional valley currents and local mountain breeze; surface water flow and storm drain runoff models; observations of movement patterns of native species and the impact of continuous human settlement encroachment on these…
This complex assessment is translated into a synthesis of loadbearing planes, interlaced slabs and beams of variable depth that ensure mutual stability. The resultant assemblage is conceived as a continuous reinforced concrete structural enclosure of great thermal inertia, capable of withstanding the drastic daily temperature fluctuations and seasonal thermal oscillations characteristic of the local climate.
The ecoscopic house was entirely handcrafted onsite, using elementary materials; steel, glass and concrete. The materialization of the project avoids off-the-shelf catalogue solutions, sophisticated materials and voluptuous finishes.
Increased construction costs as a result of structural complexity and in-situ reinforced concrete execution are justified when contemplating energy savings during the life of the building. The ecoscopic house contains a total of 445m3 of concrete, an investment that pays itself off in terms of savings on account of passive thermal control, natural ventilation (suppressing the dependence on active heat and ventilation systems such as air conditioning) and water recycling.
At the ecoscopic house concrete is structure and envelope, insulation and finish all at once. The thickness of each wall is specified not just from a structural standpoint, but taking into consideration the relevant plane’s exposure to solar radiation in order to counter its potential overheating. In this way the building draws together a catalogue of walls that vary in thickness between 110mm and 350mm.
The forms of the project demand an exploration of the possibilities of traditional reinforced concrete construction. We employed concretes of strengths between 200 and 300 kg/cm2, adjusting this specification in accordance to the relevant structural member’s exposure to the elements. The effort of translating and control of the geometry derived from a virtual model was a priority beyond which, the reinforced concrete construction followed traditional protocols using readily accessible technologies.
The project was made possible thanks to exceptional circumstances that allowed the architect to act as client, investor, structural engineer, contractor, site supervisor and property developer. In this sense construction and design blend in an organic way.
The ecoscopic house stands on a 1251m2 plot with a total built area of 651m2 spread over two floors. The ground floor totals 516m2 of net useable area; 230m2 of interior space and 286m2 of which is exterior. The better part of the ground floor is occupied by a vast open space of 180m2 that serves as a living area, complemented by a porch that adds another 92m2 of exterior space protected from the sun and rain with panoramic views of the huajuco canyon. The service sector of the house integrates the kitchen with the pantry and laundry room. This sector is coupled to a 41m2 two-vehicle roofed parking area with additional open-air parking for another two vehicles.
The upper floor amounts to 199m2 of useable interior space, incorporating 3 en-suite bedrooms in addition to the master bedroom, which boasts a 62m2 planted terrace with spectacular views of the sierra.
Manolo F. Ufer (Madrid, 1976), studies architecture at the University of Edinburgh and at the Architectural Association in London, receiving the AA Honours Diploma in 2002. Having worked for various architects in Europe and America, he set up his own architectural practice, a r c h i p e l a g o s in 2007.
archipelagos is an architecture studio which specializes in experimental housing and which participates in design-and-build projects, landscape and infrastructural development, strategic planning and urbanism.
In 1985, Italo Calvino put forward five strategies for the new millenium: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity. archipelagos synthesizes these paradigms into a mode of operation for architectural production in the informational era.
archipelagos currently operates in the United States, Mexico, Spain and Taiwan.