written by:
photos by:
April 9, 2013
Originally published in Global Style
as
Wind Catcher
A green house near the coast of El Salvador captures the best of its naturally striking setting—filled with sunlight, invigorating breezes, and sweeping views of lush woodlands.
modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Architect José Roberto Paredes’s crowning achievement is the freestanding concrete roof that wraps around the structure.

Photo by 
1 / 7
modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

The tent-like form—with an area of 2,150 square feet—extends past the perimeter of the house to shield it from the elements.

Photo by 
2 / 7
modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Triangular sails fold over the portions that receive the harshest sunlight.

Photo by 
3 / 7
4 / 7
modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Paredes’s concept was to radiate rooms from a courtyard and join them with outdoor terraces—a move he borrowed from the traditional Moorish buildings he visited in Spain as a student. “It’s like a checkerboard of a house, where you have living spaces and patios between them,” he says.

Photo by 
5 / 7
master bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass walls in a modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls give the residents the illusion of living outdoors.

Photo by 
6 / 7
reflecting pool in modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

The back patio overlooks a swath of forest.

Photo by 
7 / 7
modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Architect José Roberto Paredes’s crowning achievement is the freestanding concrete roof that wraps around the structure.

Architect 

The landscape around La Libertad, a municipality ten minutes south of El Salvador’s capital city, offers much in the way of natural wonders: a volcano in the distance, swaths of untrammeled forest, and coastline renowned for its world-class surfing. It’s no surprise that this breathtaking backdrop figured prominently into architect José Roberto Paredes’s concept for a new house that’s sculptural and attuned to its environment.

Paredes’s hallmark move is playing to his clients’ senses. He formulated a concept that fosters the emotional and haptic, even olfactory, experiences Marco Escobar and his family hoped to evoke: the feeling of “being on vacation, ” in a calm retreat from the chaotic city, in enclosed rooms that give the illusion of being outdoors. He proposed a rustic yet sober style, something that would show off the idyllic terrain and look as if it grew from the site.

modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

The tent-like form—with an area of 2,150 square feet—extends past the perimeter of the house to shield it from the elements.

“I was hypnotized by the views, as if nothing else existed,” says Paredes. “The presence of the mountains is so strong, you feel like you could touch them. The idea of the house is to keep that same feeling. The house has to disappear and make you become part of this sensation.”

Escobar, an artist and musician, never thought he’d be able to build his own home, due to the high costs associated with custom designs. He was eager to move out of his old house—a pedestrian structure he describes as “comfortable, but suffocating”—and his mother’s generous gift of a prime plot of land made him take the plunge. Escobar reconnected with Paredes, his high school friend, to aggregate, polish, and refine his many desires into a cohesive home for him, his wife, Maria, and daughter, Elena.

modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Triangular sails fold over the portions that receive the harshest sunlight.

For Paredes, breaking into a new project begins with breaking bread. Before he delves into the concept or draws the first plans, he invites new clients, like the Escobars, to his own home. “It’s important for me to really know who I’m working with,” explains Paredes. Over a meal, he asks his clients to walk him through an average day, from dawn to dusk, sussing out their personalities and hearing about the most mundane tasks—like who brushes their teeth first in the morning—to the more holistic—like the rooms they use the most. Paredes says he feels “kind of like a psychologist” as he discusses lifestyle and habits. If his clients are a couple, like the Escobars, Paredes first talks with them together, then separately so that each person can freely express desires and expectations.

reflecting pool in modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

The back patio overlooks a swath of forest.

In this case, clients and architect saw eye to eye almost instantaneously. “They came over for dinner, and Marco’s wife said, ‘You know, I could live in this house,’” says Paredes. Marco’s sentiments mirrored Maria’s exactly. “That was the day I told him, ‘Start working with my home or sell me your house!’” says Escobar.

The Escobars fell in love with Paredes’s house’s connection to the outdoors, the natural materials layered throughout the design, and the ample amount of daylight infiltrating the expansive interior spaces; they wanted the same for their future house. “From then on, it was very easy to work with them,” says Paredes.

modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Paredes’s concept was to radiate rooms from a courtyard and join them with outdoor terraces—a move he borrowed from the traditional Moorish buildings he visited in Spain as a student. “It’s like a checkerboard of a house, where you have living spaces and patios between them,” says Paredes. “You basically have the feeling that you’ve never come into the house—you’re always living in the garden.” Paredes used materials to make the house seem like it grew up from the site—rough-hewn, earthy stone (plucked from nearby Lake Illopango) at ground level to soften the cooler concrete-and-glass second story. To foster togetherness, an essential request from Marco, Paredes placed the family room toward the center of the house and made sure it had 270-degree views from its floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

Though defining the house’s character was paramount, Escobar also wanted to pack as many physical green features as possible into the 4,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, six-bathroom structure—a cistern to harvest rainwater, passive cooling, LED bulbs (which the family rarely turns on), a graywater system, reclaimed building materials, low-maintenance landscaping, and rooftop hookups for solar panels. “We have to use natural resources wisely, and I wanted to teach my daughter about this while living comfortably in a house that is green,” says Escobar.

modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Paredes’s concept was to radiate rooms from a courtyard and join them with outdoor terraces—a move he borrowed from the traditional Moorish buildings he visited in Spain as a student. “It’s like a checkerboard of a house, where you have living spaces and patios between them,” he says.

Paredes’s crowning achievement is the freestanding concrete roof that wraps around the structure. The tentlike form—with an area of 2,200 square feet—extends past the perimeter of the house to shield it from the elements. Triangular sails fold over the portions that receive the harshest sunlight. A small gap between the house’s roof and walls ensures that rising heat has an avenue to escape and channels in cooling sea breezes. Escobar, who detested the near-constant air conditioner in his previous house, raves about this low-tech feature, especially when winds whip through the rooms. “Feeling the intense energy of tropical storms like you were outside, but not actually being exposed to the rain, is so incredible,” he muses. Though El Salvador’s rainy season lasts about six months, there’s only about two hours of downfall during the day and then you have “near-perfect 80-degree weather for the rest,” says Paredes, who designed sliding walls that the residents use to close portions of the house off from storms, if need be.

With the thoughtful marriage of nature, tradition, modern design, and green technologies, Paredes crafted a one-of-a-kind design, tailored specifically to the Escobar family. “I think I live in a work of art,” says Escobar. “I used to spend more time at work, but now I rush home. I feel refreshed and inspired in my house—it’s creative nourishment for my work as a photographer and a musician.”

master bedroom with floor-to-ceiling glass walls in a modern house in el salvador with creative roofing

Floor-to-ceiling glass walls give the residents the illusion of living outdoors.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016