Magnolia House – Created by Felipe Escudero, Magnolia House is a newly completed private residential home designed to represent the calmness and serenity of nature. Created for Felipe’s mother who has a deep affinity for Magnolia trees, the home is built around a courtyard that frames a Magnolia tree at the center. The home’s design features one thin post-tensioned concrete slab with large spans and overhangs, allowing a traditionally rigid and heavy material to look like it is floating in space. Concrete ceilings delicately turn into walls providing the feeling of being hugged and protected and allows for the house to feel transparent, while also providing privacy.
Architizer chatted with Felipe Escudero, Founder and Principal of Estudio Felipe Escudero, to learn more about this project.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Felipe Escudero: Magnolia House was designed for my mother and was inspired by her love of Magnolia trees as a child. The home revolves around a Magnolia tree in the center courtyard acting as the heart of the home, reflecting the importance of our family and staying centered.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
The Magnolia tree at the center of the home is certainly one of the most standout components of the home. Even more so is the unique use of concrete. Much of the home is constructed from concrete and allows for unique design aspects. The concrete delicately turns into walls allowing the feeling of being hugged and really accentuating the peaceful and loving energy the home provides.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
Our greatest design challenge was finding the right way to incorporate the magnolia tree. During conversations with my mom, I knew this tree would provide a unique and special element to the home. At the end of the day, it felt like the best place for it to be was in the center as it had inspired the home.
How did the context of your project — environmental, social or cultural — influence your design?
For all my projects, my team and I work to engage the surrounding environment and have the project and environment blend together. When designing Magnolia House, I took into account the fact that it would be built onto a hillside and worked with that landscape to create a natural sense of privacy for the home.
What drove the selection of materials used in the project?
In Ecuador we are able to use concrete much more frequently than other countries because it is a cheaper material; which makes it a unique material to use for a residential home.
What is your favorite detail in the project and why?
I love that one material can have so many different purposes from creating a natural system of heating and cooling to the way it delicately connects to the walls allowing the feeling of being hugged and really influencing the feel of the home.
How important was sustainability as a design criteria as you worked on this project?
Sustainability is a huge criteria for all my projects. For Magnolia House, you will see sustainability aspects through the use of concrete as concrete is both easily accessible within Ecuador and eliminates the need for shipping, as well as how it acts to create natural occurrences of heating and cooling. Another aspect is always considering the surrounding landscape and figuring out how to work with it. Being built into a hillside we figured out how to allow the home to fit into the landscape instead of changing the landscape to fit the home, with the ending result being a natural occurrence of privacy.
In what ways did you collaborate with others, and how did that add value to the project?
The home was a collaboration with my mother. I knew from my design background I wanted it to be a unique space, so listening to her talk about her love of magnolia trees I thought that would be a really unique element to bring to the home.
Were any parts of the project dramatically altered from conception to construction, and if so, why?
Even though we are open to positive creative changes to happen over the design process, this was one of the projects that didn’t really change much from concept to construction. Part of this I think comes from being able to understand the client and project needs early on.
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
Every time I seen my mother she tells me how she realizes a lot of the spatial conception and details of the project are working well in different situations. For example, the house feels compact when she is alone but can accommodate a large number of people during events like family birthdays etc. All this revolves around the main living areas like dining and open kitchens since my mother loves cooking.
How do you believe this project represents you or your firm as a whole?
Magnolia House is a great project to represent the firm. Estudio Felipe Escudero focuses on creating unique and sustainable projects for clients and that’s exactly what Magnolia House accomplished. Additionally, the home is furnished with EFE’s first furniture collection, NEARLIFE.
How do you imagine this project influencing your work in the future?
Magnolia House acts as a constant example of how the firm can continue to think outside the box with design, sustainability, and involving the surrounding environment.
Products / Materials
Facade cladding: Floor to ceiling Glass, BRAND: Cortizo, product: CORVISION, local company: dekorando Flooring: BRAND Imola / product: porcelain tile Doors: Locally fabricated wood doors lacquered in automotive white paint Windows: BRAND: Cortizo, product: CORVISION, local company: dekorando Roofing: Cast in site post-tensioned concrete Interior lighting: BRands: Delta Light + Lutron, local company: highlights Interior furniture: All furniture made by Felipe Escudero
For more on Magnolia House, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.