Las Pajareras lodge expansion features basalt walls and pine vaults constructed in the forests of Ecuador
JAG Studio

Las Pajareras lodge expansion features basalt walls and pine vaults constructed in the forests of Ecuador

25 Jun 2024  •  News  •  By Collin Anderson
Architects Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna have completed the Las Pajareras project, a 130-square-meter expansion for Guango Lodge in Napo, Ecuador. The project is meant to increase the inn's capacity to accommodate bird tourism, photography, and conservation enthusiasts. Located at 2700 meters above sea level in a forest spanning some 300 hectares, the property has been maintained by the same family for over fifty years.
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio

The project brief specified three modular rooms and an outdoor communal area. Guango Lodge's historical context played a significant role in shaping the project. In the 1960s, an engineer and amateur inventor in the owner's family constructed the first prototype house using load-bearing flagstone walls and a bamboo cane vault. This early structure inspired a two-level house built by his brother in 1996, featuring river stone walls and a reinforced concrete vault, which has operated as the lodge since 2001.

Las Pajareras incorporates these historical elements with a contemporary approach. Each of the three modules includes a flexible room, a private bathroom, and a porch overlooking a river. An outdoor communal area with a hot pool and bathroom with changing room was also planned.

photo_credit Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
photo_credit Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio

Construction was complex due to the limited solid ground between the existing house and the river, coupled with a legal requirement to maintain a 15-meter buffer on either side of an oil pipeline crossing the property. This constrained the available space, directing construction towards the forest and river. The modules are positioned to maximize the use of space while providing privacy and maintaining views.

The construction system features a fourfold material approach. The 60-centimeter-thick basalt stone load-bearing walls serve structural, thermal, and acoustic functions while integrating storage for folding beds and closets. These walls are capped with a U-shaped reinforced concrete channel that cantilevers over the river, facilitating rainwater management and maintenance. Prefabricated modular curved wooden trusses form the vault, anchored in the U-channel. The vault comprises a pine wood structure, plywood arches, and a waterproofed, black galvanized metal exterior. Thermoacoustic insulation made from agricultural waste helps to reduce the project's carbon footprint.

photo_credit Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
photo_credit Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio

The inn's water supply comes from a natural spring, enhancing the project's connection with its context and natural resources. This reliance on the site’s water sources emphasizes the integration of the architecture with the surrounding environment. Additionally, the installation of a certified wastewater treatment plant allows treated water to return to natural sources, reinforcing the project's sustainable approach.

photo_credit Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
Ignacio Muñoz Bustamante and Javier Mera Luna
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio
photo_credit JAG Studio
JAG Studio