top of page



Casa Coco

Cristina Vélez Arquitectos (CVA)

El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia

July 2022


María Cristina Vélez Ortiz (Design Director)


Pablo Andrés Urhan Vélez (Senior Architect, collaborating on design, architectural detail definition, and site supervision.), Héctor Manuel Ospina Restrepo (Senior Architect, responsible for design development.), María Camila Alvarez Orduz (Senior Architect, coordinating technical drawings and architectural details.), Alvaro Tobón - Diseico (Structural Engineer), Doris Duarte (Construction Manager


Architect Cristina Vélez


Carlos Vélez


Designed as a weekend retreat for the architect herself and her dog, "Coco," the house embodies both a design endeavor and the realization of her vision and spatial aspirations for an ideal life inhabiting nature. Accordingly, all spaces were meticulously crafted to foster direct engagement with the surroundings, offering seamless access to the exterior. The theme of gardens, serving as encapsulated expressions of nature, permeates the design. This is evident in the central courtyard, a nexus of lush greenery and light that fosters a layered transparency of the landscape. Similarly, the garden-bathrooms utilize skylights to infuse the space with the sky and horizon, evoking the sensation of bathing in the open air. Furthermore, the extension of floors and roofs creates livable thresholds, blurring the boundary between interior and exterior realms in a paradoxical interplay.
The social spaces are envisioned as a unified entity that stretches out over the landscape on a cantilevered terrace, offering a sensation of being suspended above the forest. Both bedrooms directly overlook the landscape and open up at the corner, establishing a seamless connection with the outdoors. We wander through a neutral space built with clean and neat materials but deeply textured by the color and shadows of the foliage.
The house, a resembling Cubist collage, presents two distinct facets: the entrance, characterized by excavation and seclusion, and the front, which boldly opens up towards the landscape creating a mixture between the cave and the pavilion.


House and nature are envisioned simultaneously as a unified entity. The structure seemingly emerges from the trees, creating the illusion that they uphold the house the intention was to delicately fit the volume between the existing vegetation and create a precise interconnection with the natural terrain so that the house would complete its steep slope as a component of the ground itself.
This concrete and glass pavilion extends from the slope towards the forest, opening on three of its sides to the landscape, modulated by the presence of the house itself. The facade unfolds shaping a courtyard-garden, generating a new transparency, juxtaposing vegetation, interior space, and nature once more. This folding of the glass creates a kaleidoscope of enclosed nature in the interior, which multiplies it and puts it in communion with the environment. Terraces and cantilevered corridors extend into the landscape, evoking the sensation of dwelling suspended amidst the forest.
The house is linked to the terrain through robust beams that project against the slope clinging to it, shaping a succession of courtyards and pergolas that function as spatial modulators, capturing light and green. Accessible from the natural terrain, the grass-covered roof expands the house's footprint, effectively doubling it, and offering an outdoor living area elevated to the height of the tree canopies.


Casa Coco ingeniously transforms the limitations posed by a rugged topography featuring a 32% slope and an irregular, narrow plot of 1900 m² into a wealth of opportunities. Leveraging its geometry, volumetric strategies, choice of materials, and structural innovation, it emerges as an artifact seamlessly blending the boundaries between house and nature, achieving perfect harmony.
The glazed facades, unfold following the contour lines, expanding the interior space of merely 130 m², offering expansive views towards the horizon while seamlessly integrating the surrounding forest into the living space. Positioned on the steepest slope, the cantilevers serve to minimize further disturbance to the terrain, nearly brushing against the tree trunks.
The impact of the footprint is reduced by utilizing green space on the roof, concealing it and serving as a comfort feature for colder climates. The orientation prioritizes the open facades capturing the morning sun, while in the afternoons, the west-facing roof provides an inviting space for relaxation and social gatherings.
Likewise, every existing tree was safeguarded, a fresh oak forest was cultivated, and the slopes were replenished with vegetation offering sanctuary for wildlife. The presence of birds, squirrels, and other small creatures with which Coco interacts enlivens the atmosphere of the house.
Arguably, the most significant challenge lay in constructing using a limited and honest palette of materials: glass, wood, and exposed concrete. Here, the structure itself not only serves as the spatial framework but also defines the tectonics. Consequently, it is a house that manages to build more with less.

bottom of page