Catalina Patiño and Juan Pablo Ramos are Medellin-based architecture practice CAPA; a dynamic, young studio that may be small is size but is big in skill and ambition. CAPA has now joined our roster of emerging practices in the Wallpaper* Architects Directory 2021, representing Colombia. 

Who: CAPA

CAPA was founded in 2015 by architects Catalina Patiño and Juan Pablo Ramos. Both hailing from the beautiful mountain city of Medellin, the pair are now based in the green countryside in the city’s outskirts. The studio focuses on single-family housing, where architecture meets sustainability and equity – both important values for the firm. ‘As a studio, we seek to have ethical, fair wages and working conditions, putting great effort into working with local manufacturing, and sustainable processes,’ say the architects. 

Works such as Casa SKL (just completed, see below) and the upcoming project Casa Arigato (which is in design development) demonstrate just how CAPA combines a sensitive approach with architectural skill and a clean, contemporary aesthetic. Innovation and designs that push the envelope of architecture and domestic design are the name of the game. ‘We are not interested in “flat” ideas,’ say the duo. ‘We create projects that might build a new topography and a single relationship with the landscape; sloping roofs and crystal-shaped walls are part of them. Some of them start from a modular piece to create flexible spaces, multiple configurations and facilitate building processes.

‘We think each project is unique and the construction process is made in an artisanal way. Our manufacturing and supplies are local, we work hand in hand with artisans who participate in the development of our projects. We like to work with noble and natural materials – concrete, wood, metal, brick among them – and use them in a raw way. We care about details and we are always creating new ways to resolve them,’ continue the architects. 

the black angular volumes of a Colombian house within lush greenery

What: Casa SKL

A generous and gracious, angular 450 sq m home in the leafy, sloped terrain around Medellin, Casa SKL was designed to provide ample, functional and exciting domestic space while negotiating a steep, green site. In order to do this, the house is divided into four, dark wood-clad volumes, which appear separate but are joined by two enclosed gardens that bring everything together in a single unit.

A connection to the lush outdoors – both the manmade gardens and the wider scenery – were important to the design. ‘With the rotation of the volumes, angular openings are created that allow the creation of interior gardens. Each one keeps the same proportions, but is inverted with respect to the previous one, which allows us to generate a common principle between roofs, ridge levels and side heights of the façades,’ say the architects. 

Contrasting with the darker exterior, the interior is bright and lightly coloured. Internally, the home is a flowing space divided into zones through different levels, connected by elegant, light-looking metal bridges and staircases. Large openings bring in plenty of light, while clean yet striking volumes and geometric angles make for a dramatic experience that relies on architectural gestures and raw materials rather than decor. ‘Casa SKL is a home that is discovered as you walk through it, a place of asymmetrical perspectives and contrasts between its finishes,’ say the architects.

wide interior shot showing timber structure and looking out at Colombian house

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021

Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our magazine’s annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. The project has, over the years, spanned styles and continents, while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni and counting, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 21st edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios, from Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the USA, and the UK, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

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Colombian Casa SKL’s dark and angular exterior
Colombian Casa SKL’s extensive library structure
Colombian Casa SKL’s dramatic metal staircase and internal angles
Colombian Casa SKL’s visible roof pitch from the inside, clad in timber