One day, a projet : CACMU Verde by Procesos Urbanos

Photography by Bicubik

Today, I’m sharing with you one of my pet peeves in terms of project (if you follow the “One day, one project” articles, you must be used to it : rehabilitation. Indeed, I believe that in the times we live in, we must think by integrating as an initial constraint the renewal of urban buildings. The saying has been known for years now, but we are told (with good reason, unfortunately) that it is easier to demolish to rebuild. However, who said that this challenge of urban regeneration had to be easy ?

Anyway, I won’t dwell on this subject (highly topical and interesting by the way), because in “One day, one project”, we are here to talk about emotions and concrete (that was for the rhyme). Without further ado, let’s dive into architecture!

Full course to the north of Ecuador, near the Colombian border where is located the charming city of Ibarra (if I believe the very beautiful images of google). It is in the historical center of the city that the rehabilitation of the heritage building where the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Mujeres Unidas (CACMU) is located was conducted. Led by the agency Procesos Urbanos, the main idea was to preserve the elements that could be preserved (some parts of the walls, part of the floor) while modernizing the envelope to accommodate the projected uses. The roof, in a poor state of repair, was completely replaced by a wood/steel complex respecting the original building’s template. The choice of the color of the steel tanks makes me cringe a little. A black underside or the addition of micro-perforated wooden acoustic correction elements would have brought more comfort and less contrast to the roof. But sometimes you can’t do what you want (the budget doesn’t seem to be that great)!  The structural posts were also taken up in wood and steel, offering a framework that, it must be admitted, has a lot of style.

Here and there, we find sections of walls as well as an arch in brick, integrating into the whitish neutrality of the partitions. The use here adapts to the historical carriers of the building without it appearing problematic. The lack of natural light in some offices is compensated by a generous second day, bathing the interior of the building in a beautiful light. The use of transparent materials in the railings adds to the impression of fluidity and lightness.

I have to talk about this patio that made me let out a “wow” behind my screen (the best for last). Whether it’s the frame, the mix of wood and steel in the structure, the choice of light fixtures (sumptuous!) or this metal grid that filters the light: everything here makes you want to contemplate. Even the furniture is in perfect harmony with the place: special mention for the table with colorful patterns.

In conclusion, I would say that this kind of project values a respectful restoration of heritage, but marked by a tinge of modernity. John Ruskin said of Notre Dame: “It is impossible, as impossible as raising the dead, to restore what was ever great or beautiful in architecture. Mimicry is not the only solution in matters of heritage. An old building must take on the different strata of the eras that it has seen succeed one another without trying to reproduce what made its glorious past : the future can also be great, beautiful or even sumptuous.

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