Casa LEED v2

Nearly one year ago we sold our lot in La Estrella, recovering in the process part of our investment in architect and engineer fees. This was an unfortunate ending to a house design and construction project that lasted nearly 4 years — with no concrete result.

You can read more about the root causes of our failure in the earlier chapters of this blog. However, in this new post I want to focus on the latest development of my project to build a home for me and my family.

In September 2015, while learning to drive, I fortuitously discovered a brand new gated community in the Alto de las Palmas area that we like so much because of

  • safety: there are two police stations located within a 3 Km radius
  • proximity to Medellin: a 15-minute drive is all that is needed to get to most of El Poblado
  • tranquility: the neighborhood is rather exclusive and away from heavily transited roads
  • cold climate: most of Alto de las Palmas is 1000 meters above Medellin, at nearly 2600 m. altitude, with an average temperature that can dip as low as 13 degrees Celsius

Clearly, there are downsides too, such as

  • high prices
  • no views of Medellin

Overall, we found the rural environment to be relaxing and peaceful. Here’s a bird’s eye view of the gated community:

In October 2015 we took the plunge and purchased a 2077 square meter lot that will be delivered to us with all utility services between February and April 2016. That leaves us plenty of time to embark once again in a house design project.

We will follow some simple guidelines during that process, to produce an initial concept that we can share with an architect to complete the detailed construction drawings:

Taking all these characteristics and putting them into a mental blender, I produced yesterday the following sketches depicting a possible design for our future house in Alto de las Palmas:

Each private module would feature an identical program, though the exact geometry and space may vary: a bedroom under the ceiling with a loft space and a minimalist large work area on the ground floor with plenty of natural light (the A-frames of old had a reputation to be dark inside), while the bathroom would be located at the back, acting as a buffer against the noise coming from the public space. Storage space for clothes and books will take up the rest of that volume.

The core of the cluster will be articulated around a well-planned central circulation space, giving access to each of the private modules as well as public spaces: the kitchen and dining room, the living room, the guest’s bathroom and the garage with any service space.

As a sidenote, all wiring and plumbing should be thought out equally intelligently to minimize cable and pipe run lengths, thus keeping construction and operating costs low.

We seek a stark contrast between the solid faceted private modules and the central public and circulation spaces which should be seen as ethereal, transparent, almost fragile, full of soft curves. This isn’t a common design in houses hence the example below is from a public building

To compound the difficulty of this project, everything should be designed and built on an extremely tight budget. Now we just need to find an architect willing to take up that challenge!

Oh, and just in case you wondered, LEED certification has become an optional “plus” — though the best practices of LEED buildings should be closely adhered to. We may have to rename this blog “”.

Originally published at on February 28, 2016

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