Editors Note: Recent protests in Cali, Colombia and other cities throughout the South American country have become increasingly violent as militarized police fight civilian demonstrators over economic and social injustices. Read more on the concerning clashes here.
Located an hour and a half outside of Bogotá, Colombia, Casa Tejida by Santiago Pradilla and Zuloark architects is an experiment in building technique, rural housing, and in the process of architecture itself.
On a family’s coffee plantation in the region of Cundinamarca, Colombia, the “Woven House” site is remote and difficult to access, especially during the rainy season. A lack of visitors has kept the area, La Vereda Fical, abundant and biodiverse, and the 20 or so families in the community share resources between themselves.
The team behind La Casa Tejida lived in a neighboring town, mere meters away from their construction, for 6 months. This allowed them to share local knowledge during the construction and involve the community in their work. The build was seen as a learning process for all.
The house is a combination of pre-Hispanic, prefabricated, modern, and local building techniques. Based on a principle in pre-Hispanic architecture, alternating columns are buried, while others rest on the stone. When the buried foundations eventually rot, those resting on stone begin to bear the weight of the structure.
Although not completely pre-fabricated, wood beams and metal guilds were pre-assembled so that they could be put together quickly once on-site.
Leaving certain elements of construction undecided left room for organic building elements to emerge.
On a trip back from Bogotá, by chance the team encountered Maria, who owned a local woven furniture business. Working together, they adapted her fibers to use as the exterior webbing, further embracing the remote region's community-centric mentality in the process.
The design and fabrication team built with an ethos of “less is more” and eliminated construction elements like interior veneer and insulation, leaving the structure and orientation of the house to regulate temperature. A small and open floor plan eliminated the resources needed to create corridors and the continuous wood flooring meant all corners could be inhabited or used.
The team hopes Casa Tejida can act as a model for future rural development in Colombia, one that has low environmental impact and pays respect to local communities and history.