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Sustainable and Eco-friendly: NILO HOUSE


Located in the mountains of Colombia, Nilo Houses, designed by two brothers Alberto Buckhard and Carolina Echeverri for their families, you can observe the modern adaptation of zen and minimalism to the space.

The project, which is located in the region where the tropical climate is dominant, is located on two adjacent parcels with a residential area of ​​3,380 m² and 2,761 m², respectively, overlooking a common lake. The structures arranged with an L-scheme on these neighboring lands have been designed with an understanding that aims to contribute to the fauna by approaching the ecological sustainability of the environment in which they are located.

Nilo Houses are formed by bringing together the masses in definite lines, which are shaped in different horizontal planes. The orientation of the masses located on the edge of the plateau has been arranged according to the usage program, to make the best use of the landscape and natural slope and to articulate with nature in harmony.

Considering the basics of the plan scheme of the houses, in addition to benefiting from the landscape and adapting to the fauna; It is striking that large courtyards were designed to separate the boundary between the public socializing area and the more private living and sleeping areas.

The large L-shaped courtyard located at the entrance of the living area on the ground floor, with its arrangement with pebbles, pavement, concrete facade and landscaping, makes you feel peace and serenity even at the first stage.

The living area is arranged to be in direct communication with the pool. The living area, kitchen and dining area in this area are planned with a transparent segmentation without any separating elements. The pool located on the ground floor determines the settlement boundary of the project. Even the project boundary is arranged horizontally in this way, allowing the living area to be in uninterrupted interaction with the mountain landscape and fauna.

The roof plane of the living area, which forms the floor covering of the first floor, folds over itself twice vertically. Other vertical planes consist of wooden window frames and crates with shutters.

On the first floor, the area where the bedrooms are located has been designed as pieces that are specially articulated to the space. In the first floor plan, which is arranged as a semi-open semi-closed area, the unique vegetation of the region is identified with the structure, with the green roof arrangements, especially the ground floor roof eaves, as well as the wide floor coverings, and the sense of harmony of the space has been strengthened.

In facade and roof arrangement, openings have been created in order to benefit more from daylight, to allow the tropical climate and breeze to circulate in all areas of the space and to add palm trees to the interior. In this way, while providing shelter in the outdoor-indoor relationship, a perception of permeability and integrity with nature is created at the same time. With vertical wooden blinds, daylight is provided to create light reflection on concrete and wooden surfaces.


In the project, organized on the basis of "minimalism" and "zen" approach, integrity was ensured with mass games on the horizontal. These planes constructed of concrete form the characteristic feature of the project.

Although it creates a brutalist and unnatural effect when evaluated in terms of concrete construction technique and aesthetics, it can be used as a material that can be integrated with zen, since it is a material that is mostly used in the understanding of minimalism and modernism. In this context, the inclusion of concrete in the project in its raw form is of great importance in modernizing the "Zen" approach.

In order to eliminate the limiting effect, the weight feeling of concrete, which is generally preferred in its raw form in horizontal elements, has been achieved with a natural and simple appearance with the integration of wood and natural materials. A whole and serene effect with the environment has been achieved with the warm tones of wood materials used in floor coverings and sliding doors.

Jointed, linear wood coatings used on the floors of swimming pools and garden areas are also preferred in other space elements in similar ways. The vertically registered shutters on the façade consist of wood materials unique to the fauna of the region, in the same color tones as the wood material used in the floor coverings.

The other key component of this trend is the blurring of indoor and outdoor spaces. That's why outdoor elements are added inside to create a feeling with the earth.

The purpose of the Zen-style space arrangement is to make the space a quiet place, freeing it from the bustle and emotional demands of the outside world. It is possible to see the calmness seen in the exterior clearly, also in the interior.

Wide openings stand out in the interiors. Decorative plasters in natural color palette including water and earth tones were preferred in wall paints. While calmness is ensured with mostly plain linen fabrics in natural color tones, a feeling of comfort is created with cushions.

All furniture consists of clean lines without embellishments. It is possible to say that decorative objects are used very little in the space. In the objects used, it is seen that wood and stone materials are preferred and plants are used as much as possible, thus strengthening the perception of unity with nature.

Of course, it is a very good idea to apply Zen principles into space design, but you don't always have to do this in a place that is intertwined with nature, as in the Nilo house. In order to create a similar calmness effect in every space, you can first use your color preferences in natural tones with the Minimal Zen approach. This color palette is mostly dark beige, white and brown. It would be appropriate to choose dark gray-anthracite in areas where you want to create contrast. By avoiding decorations, you can add natural elements to the space. For this, if you have the advantage of a natural view in the space, using only large windows will easily allow you to create a spacious and calm effect in the space. In places where you do not have a view, you can create an effect with nature with large-sized natural space photos.

In the light of all these design principles, it is quite easy to create spaces where you will get away from the stress of daily life, get rid of the chaos and provide a relaxing experience.

Image Credit: Juan Antonio Monsalve


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