Perched on a steep sloping terrain in Guatemala City, Vistas del Angel residence captures exceptional views of the surroundings while resting on concrete piles poured into the unstable terrain. The cantilevering residential building was designed in three phases, making sure that the home will be able to sustain its own weight in the seismically active area. Constructing the imposing contemporary house necessitated light gauge steel sandwich panel walls, but extensive use of glazed windows still frame green stretches of land all the way down to the valley underneath. Interior spaces were designed to comfort and entice inhabitants and guests alike. A series of wooden decks connect the land to the entrance, creating the adventurous feeling of balancing to reach a comfortable suite of rooms. Terraces offer unequalled open-air experiences and construct a fascinating and soothing connection to the freeing outdoors. Designed by Juan Lacape of modern design practice LAKP, Vistas del Angel can be described as the essence of modern habitat.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests