Casa Ocal is a compact home in the Ecuadorian mountains, designed by the Quito-based architecture studio Jorge Ramón Giacometti Taller de Arquitectura. Made from locally available eucalyptus wood as well as recycled metal, the house features a gabled structure and is set in a hard-to-access location in the mountains to the north of Ecuador.

The brief for the architects was to design a 110-square-metre house within a limited budget in a remote location in the Ecuadorian mountains. Respecting the vernacular architecture of the mountainous region, the architects decided to keep the design simple and minimise disruption to the natural landscape.

So that the topography was not disturbed, the house was raised on pilotis or stilts, which also allowed rainwater runoff down the slope unobstructed by any built elements. The stilts also helped achieve a level ground floor without any need for excavation. Additionally, the interior remains protected from damp.

The rustic house features a modular design with clear functional areas and the building is oriented to capture the beautiful views of the mountains. The porticos, beams and joists are made using eucalyptus slats, with the building envelope featuring tongue-and-groove staves, also made from eucalyptus wood. Recycled sheet metal furniture and metal profiles prefabricated in the workshop were installed in the interior spaces.

Casa Ocal is a three-bedroom house featuring an open plan kitchen and living space. Glazing has been extensively used to open up the indoor spaces to the beautiful views outside. The vernacular architecture also helps the wood house blend into the landscape.

The construction, which took just five months, was completed in 2020.

Photography: Claudia Muñoz Karig