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Habitable Polyhedron by Manuel Villa, Bogotá, Colombia

Portability meets the primitive hut in the Habitable Polyhedron that Manuel Villa designed for the garden of a young couple and their newborn child in a suburb of Bogotá. Photography by Sergio Gomez

The project began with the idea of a shelter that would complement outdoor activities as an escape from the daily routine.

Manuel Villa has a fledgling firm in Bogotá that created a fretted canopy over the Astrid & Gastón bar and is collaborating with Paisajes Emergentes on the transformation of the El Campin stadium. Ideas of lightness and economy were uppermost in his mind when he began thinking about a shelter that would be easy to construct, versatile, and have a distinctive personality.

He was inspired by what he read about early childhood development - how kids learn to read and organize their perceptions by recognizing different shapes and grasping the concept of space.Those are key skills for an architect, and they led him to explore the potential of a regular polyhedron - more specifically a truncated cubic-octahedron.

He made scale models, starting at a scale of 1:40 and ending with a full-size mock-up, resolving technical and design issues as he progressed. The beauty of the diagram, in which the facets are folded to embrace a habitable space, inspired the construction by carpenter Luis Carlos Gazon. The structural frame and hexagonal infill panels are of warm-toned pine and the exterior is clad with black shingles.

The structure rests on a concrete pad and a hexagonal pine deck extends out from the steel framed glass entry facade. An acrylic dome balances the natural light and small side windows can be flipped up to provide cross ventilation. A built-in desk and couch occupy most of the 7.5m² of floor space.

The black polyhedron would be easy to replicate as a prefabricated unit that could be moved to any site, set down on a level pad and transported at will.

Architect Manuel Villa, Bogotá
Construction Luis Carlos Gazon

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