Natura Futura, Ecuador: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023

Ecuadorian practice Natura Futura joins the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, with projects such as this brick house and school in Los Rios

brick house by Natura Futura
(Image credit: Natura Futura)

Natura Futura is a pioneering young studio from Ecuador, formed in 2015 by practice principal architect José Fernando Gómez. Now, the Los Rios-based studio has joined the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe. Celebrating its participation, we spotlight the firm's La Casa Que Habita, an urban residence in Babahoyo, Los Rios. 

exterior of brick house by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

Who: Natura Futura

José Fernando Gómez is motivated by a desire to continuously participate in, research and experiment with the urban condition, 'deeply committed to the city and community life', he explains. 

‘On the other hand, this collective project is also a personal motivation; that leads us to question ourselves about sensitive aspects of architecture in Latin America. We believe in a path of architectural exploration that works to find solutions through questioning and continuous research about the cities. We are especially focused not in main cities, but in satellite cities.' 

Natura Futura exterior of brick house

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

Natura Futura's work appears modest. The studio often uses inexpensive materials and shapes and volumes that, while vastly improving the lives of their users, are subtle and understated. Gomez is influenced deeply by the context of each given project too – hoping that each one helps make its surrounding conditions better for all. 

‘Our purpose is to generate projects that function as an engine of awareness for change, managing resources and working hand in hand with private and public companies, foundations and the community. The purpose is to generate projects that leave a precedent within the city, for example, our house for abandoned kittens was important since after that, laws were generated for the protection of abandoned animals. A centre for the care of stray animals is currently under development,' he says. 

detail of brick house exterior by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

What: La Casa Que Habita

Set in the town of Babahoyo, Los Rios, La Casa Que Habita is a unique proposition. 'Albita and Juan, a young couple, needed a new place to live. The possibility of using a lot within the urban area was suggested as an answer,' the architects recall. In order for the clients to make the proposal economically viable, it was suggested to combine their living space with a school – a place for the community to learn and gather. The project blends living, working and social elements in a site-specific way, offering solutions to the housing crisis in the city. 

interior dining area of brick house by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

Using the archetypal image of a house with a pitched roof, Natura Futura worked towards a structure that occupies comfortably and efficiently its 12m x 30m plot – a slice of town originally earmarked for a terraced dwelling. Raw materials, natural textures and plenty of light through glazed walls, doors and skylights make for a pleasant, warm and tactile space. The public-facing elements are located on the ground level, while accommodation is placed on the floor above. 

'La Casa Que Habita is a manifesto that rethinks the way in which urban centres are inhabited and densified in a more sustainable way, a vision of merging activities that help us diversify them, recovering the locality and its traditions as a starting point for new generations,' writes Gomez. 

interior looking to courtyard of brick house by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 23rd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo, Ecuador, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture. 

staircase inside brick house by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura)

interior space inside brick house by Natura Futura

(Image credit: Natura Futura) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).