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ADS12: Melee

Claudia Robalino

Born in Quito, Ecuador, and now living in London, Claudia is constantly in search of new material expressions that translate bodily experiences related to culture and environmental constructs. Inclusivity, tactility and the body become the core for exploration of human encounters through contemporary contradictions. Working across multiple scales of intimacy, she is interested in multidisciplinary practices engaging with interior, fashion, and exhibition design.

The diversity of her country influenced by the complexities of a human - nature based research gave form to “Tailoring Camouflage”. Actively confronting extractivism by exposing the importance of cross-cultural dialogue through performative occupation. As a result, this project has been nominated for the RIBA Silver Medal Prize.

Claudia graduated from Universidad San Francisco de Quito and studied at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her background includes working in architectural practices in Poland, and Ecuador and personal explorations of furniture-making and paintings. She is passionate about nature and particularly interested in capturing quotidianity through the understanding of human relations. 

School of Architecture Prizes 2021 Joint Winner of Head of Programme’s Prize - Architecture

Tailoring camouflage is a portal to the amazon and the interaction between nature and ritual. A transcription of the role of the body and the value of the Huaorani women as nurtures and constructors of the forest through oral histories. Resulting in a parallel understanding of the chakra as the garden of knowledge through performative occupation and the conflicting relationships between indigenous and westerns world views.

With its multiple fabricated realities, the Ecuadorian Amazon is approached through the tenuous and intimate dialogues of body and earth, learning from the self-sufficient practices of the Huaorani people to understand expressive camouflage as a form of inhabitation. The Yasuni Park is approached only as a knowledge bank while the project intervenes in Quito as the first form of interaction with a distant territory, engaging with a foreign heritage through observation and collaboration. In the direction of the amazon, the architectural intervention proposes an inhabited urban garden in the Andes, built upon the principles of a chakra. A transcription of living methodologies based on cultural understandings of seasons, crops, rituals, and space.

The garden becomes a frame for coexistence, on the experience of cycles of our own natural body and those of nature; equinoxes, solstices, sunrise and sunset, birth and death, moments of harvest and storage; growth and transformations in the life of a living environment. A return to the cyclical forms of living only through repetition and setting aside time concepts as we know it.

Huaorani Rooms — Dealing with a right to opacity, no physical identities are shown, and is only through sonic tradition and transcriptions that this project should become a space in which people can revisit the everyday that is often forgotten in the city. Allowing the building to store traces of human interaction over time.

The Ecuadorian amazon with its multiple fabricated realities is approached through the tenuous and intimate dialogues of body and earth. Learning from the self-sufficient practices of the Huaorani people to understand expressive camouflage as a form of inhabitation. 

Building Plan 1:200 — 1.Guapulo Entrance 2.Omare 3.Weaving Courtyard 4.Chambira Garden 5.Huaorani Rooms 6. Washing Vessel 7.Cacao niches 8. Nanicabo 9.Healing Garden 10.Quito entrance
Building Section 1:200 — The garden’s introspect design frames performative encounters using the wall as the hosting device but also as an archival of undocumented quotidianity.

As a conversation, the architecture is not permanent or fixed, it is a continuously changing landscape affected by the conditions of the environment and the ephemerality of the fibers. The methodology is to grow a building where the interventions become a framing and temporal device to host people and plants. 

Articulating the amazon and the Andes, the architecture enhances the sensibility of the body channeled by the sensorial immersion of storytelling. The multiple areas register the passing of time through the deterioration and occupation of the materials. Resulting in a tactile experience of rammed earth blocks and chambira fibers as the continuous skin that encloses the series of rooms to hosts direct contact of humans and crops.

Chambira Garden — The chambira garden remembers the use of the fiber by indigenous communities as they represent belonging and identity and repurposes the plant by using it not only for its cultivation but for growing the building itself. The introspect design frames performative encounters using the wall as the hosting device but also as an archival of undocumented quotidianity.
Washing Vessel — By dwelling through a sensorial experience of color articulation, a different angle is approached from the constructed image of the Yasuni, focused on preserving the sensibility of the processes and production of the amazon itself through a predisposed growing system. The quotidian ritual of washing enhances the collective scenarios in which fibers become a constant reminder of the journey of occupation.
Weaving Courtyard — This gathering of bodies in close contact with the floor is related to the ancestral forms In which there was no distinction between function and space.
Collective Contradictions
Ecology of Structures

By dwelling through a sensorial experience of color articulation, a different angle is approached from the constructed image of the Yasuni, focused on preserving the sensibility of the processes and production of the amazon itself through a predisposed growing system. 



Medium:

Rammed earth + Natural fibers
Huaorani Chakra — The chakra or garden in the forest is a cultural typology original of the communities of the Amazon who implement it as a self-sufficient strategy. It's occupied mainly by women, who support their practice through memory, an interconnection of living things through a ritual of repetition.
Specie Documentation — Yucca, chambira, plátano, and cacao are the main crops used in the quotidian of their life providing the bases for nutrition, construction, leisure, and spirituality. Nurtured through the SASINA or corporeal rhythms, these species characterize their daily life interconnecting the rituals of weaving with the role of transmission. Exploration of materiality, growth, body movement, and scale related to the main domesticated species used by the Huaorani people in the forest.
Details of Inhabitation 1:20 — In the garden, nature becomes the orientation system and the enclosure of the different activities. Enhancing the garden's role to host rituals of inhabitation, tradition and growth.
The garden results in the accumulation of the best resources, a privileged place to gather and learn.

Medium:

Platano, Yucca, Cacao, Chambira
Weaving technique body - material
Weaving technique body - material

 Activities and traditions related to the chambira fibre were personally documented and tested as a building material, enhancing the opportunity to engage with this culture. 

Medium:

Chambira Palm
Stages of the floor — Learning from the cycles of a chakra, the floor articulates different stages of growth in a performative garden with an alternative view on the use of crops as part of a ritual of encounters. The stages of a rotation system are augmented and intertwined with rituals of inhabitation using the architecture itself to translate the forms of gathering across the garden.


Medium:

Crops of the Amazon