Nicolás y Nicolás, Spain and Ecuador: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023

With offices in Spain and Ecuador, Nicolás y Nicolás is part of the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, our annual round-up of exciting emerging architecture studios

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás
(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

Young studio Nicolás y Nicolás is named after its two co-founders, Nicolás Vivas, who heads the Quito office in Ecuador, and Nicolás López, who leads the Barcelona one in Spain. Their work has earned them a spot in the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2023, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe. Our spotlight falls on the firm's Casa Magnolia, a low, suburban home in Puembo, Ecuador (which they completed together with Caa Pora Architects).

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás exterior

(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

Who: Nicolás y Nicolás

Nicolás y Nicolás' mission is to elevate everyday spaces, and living, through architecture. Their varied portfolio is still growing – the pair only formed their joint practice in 2017 – but they always try to bridge cultures and experiences, using for example, both local and traditional, and contemporary materials in their work. At the same time, they try to challenge themselves with every project. '[We stand out for] trying to step out of the boundaries,' they say. 'Our education, normally, [is] very linear on how we should understand architecture. Sometimes we forget that we are sensitive beings that enjoy simple things. We are trying to push the boundaries with gentle gestures.'

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás exterior detail

(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

They also draw inspiration from nature, and some of architecture's grand masters: 'We deeply believe that nature has plenty of lessons to be learned. Different scales, colours, textures, and so on, coexist in the same space and time in such a harmonic way. Our design practice is always looking forward to create a sensitive link between nature and what we create.' 

They add: '[We are also influenced by] Ricardo Bofill. It’s very inspiring to see his work, how he mixed monumentality with singularity. The use of colour in a unique way of expression.'

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás outside looking in

(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

What: Casa Magnolia

Through this commission, the architects tried to offer an alternative response to the typical high-end home in a small residential enclave. Casa Magnolia, which was created together with CaaPora Arquitectura, was approached as a series of spaces and volumes, composed together in a way that leads to a functional flow and pleasing domestic comfort – as opposed to seeing it as a 'precious', single architectural element. Five volumes totalling 350 sq m are set out across a single level, open and communing with their natural surroundings. Each volume houses a specific activity, designed around its particular needs – but they all open up towards the green views of the leafy context. 

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás living space

(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

Clean, white surfaces, plastered walls and rectangular volumes of straight lines make for a simple and serene environment where horizontality and a connection to the ground is highlighted. Translucent 'bridges' link the different areas, decorated with rusted steel sheets that add texture. 'The project proposes a single-family home in a very abstract way, in which the functionality of the spaces, their internal relationships, and the suburban context are extrapolated to generate a simple and straightforward architectural object, both in composition and materiality,' the architects conclude. 

casa magnolia by Nicolás y Nicolás bedroom

(Image credit: Nicolás Provoste)

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.

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).