The Coffee House is a small 60sqm pavilion located in an organic coffee farm called Frajares. At 1700m above sea level, this small family-business benefits from the micro-climate of the west Andes mountain range in the Chocó Andino region.
Two hours northwest of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, you can find a unique dynamic climate that changes from sunny to foggy to drizzly and rainy in a matter of hours. The farm benefits from an extraordinary topographical condition, located at one the highest peaks of Nanegalito looking out on the Andes Mountain Range, the Pichincha Volcano, and a fantastic view over the clouds towards the Pacific Ocean. All these special and specific climatic conditions allow for the cultivation of various coffee bean types with enormous and rich qualities in flavor and aroma. Nanegalito is a dynamic place, complex and indeterminate, immersed in an ever-changing landscape with a diverse fauna and flora.
The project tried to understand all these conditions and carefully embrace nature, positioning itself with consciousness and responsibility to mimic its surroundings. At the same time, it lets the users take advantage of the spectacular views in this magical natural landscape.
The client’s main desire was to create a remarkable coffee-making experience. After walking the series of steep slopes through the farm, and reading the topographic lines, several points of interest were identified as possible strategic architectural insertions in the landscape. This careful understanding of the natural environment led to surgically introduce a singular and volumetric small-scale architectural element in the highest area, placed parallel to a row of existing alders that provide shade and embrace the inserted volume. The project enhances the “genius loci” of the place and is not seeking to be the main character. Furthermore, it reveals the landscape as a covered shelter, a refuge that invites users to look at the surroundings with fresh eyes. This is where the coffee-making story begins.
The Coffee House is made up of a single elongated volume that gradually separates itself from the ground plane. This is due to three different reasons: the local humid climatic conditions, the sense of levitation above the coffee plantation, and the desire for minimizing the footprint of the intervention. The lateral and pivoting partitions, that resulted from a delicate design and carpentry techniques, blur the limits of the interior and exterior and allow for the enjoyment of interesting views of the plantation and the surrounding mountains. In addition, while the front is an open and transparent space, the back quietly holds the service elements such as the restroom and support counter. The resulting space is versatile, ready to host the required program including a tasting and pairing room, cafeteria, dining room, gazebo, and classroom.
Local and vernacular architectural solutions were reinterpreted in a meticulous design and construction process. Lessons from local construction methods were applied, such as tilted roofs, predominance of wood, and separating the building from the ground. Also, contemporary materials were introduced, such as steel, concrete, and glass. The result is a complex structure, with carefully designed joints between the different materials, with the purpose of protecting against the changing environment.
The structural steel system was duly modulated for transportation and installation on-site, seeking to optimize the number of used elements, maintaining efficiency in costs and weight. Constant modulation of both steel and wood, like the tongue and groove of colorado staves, join carefully with bent steel plates leaving no corners exposed to the outdoors. On the inside, the lightweight wall and ceiling was covered in designed and modulated seike boards to have a waste-free installation. In addition, this building manages the separation of the discharge of rainwater and grey water: the rainwater returns to the farm, while the grey water goes to a biodigester.
Through the development of complementary operations of landscaping and architecture, Architekten wants to tell a story of senses around the coffee experience: the production, harvesting, post-harvest, drying, roasting, and grinding processes. The Coffee House is the first step in a broader strategy proposed for the farm: the coffee plantation will have a store-museum, cafeteria and interpretive-educational trails that will complement the coffee experience.
Name of the project: Coffee House
Project category: Hospitality
Role of the entrant in the project: ARCHITEKTEN Felipe Palacios + Johann Moeller Lead Design + Build Firm.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any): Francisco Jose Reyes.
Project location: Hacienda Frajares, Nanegalito. Pichincha, Ecuador
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2017