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El refugio para un picaflor

lukas fúster

San Bernardino, Cordillera, Paraguay

December 2022


lukas fúster troche (architect)


marcela escobar (architect), kathia ruiz (architect), emilio cañiza (constructor), alberto martinez (constructor)


Fúster´s family - Patricia Troche, Victor Fúster


lukas fuster - marcela escobar


The shelter for a hummingbird was born with a death. my brother's death. my brother used to give orchids to my mother as gifts. many of them. always. so we decided to build a place for them. this place for plants should also function as a celebration space.
It is built with what is at hand, with what nature provides. here there was no total preconceived project. it was done in stages and according to need. first two walls. then a floor with a long stone table with a grill for cooking on the embers. then the swimming pool. later a bathroom with a storage.
In this way the trunks of fallen trees instead of ending up as firewood have a better destiny, becoming part of the landscape again. in the bathroom we used as structure whole trunks of trees that died in a fire and we covered it with offset plates discarded from the printing presses. we imitated Gehry with scraps, humor and hammer. the sheets offer infinite durability and zero maintenance, in addition to their reflections, which are crucial to the project.
The work is the result of a process where site, material and time feeds the project.
The shelter for a hummingbird is a memorial. to celebrate life and death. built with materials that were discarded and here come to life as matter. a place where the walls shelter nature and people alike. where the reflections blur the beyond. a place for the stories we are missing.


Paraguay is located in the center of South America, a few meters above sea level. it is like a pot of concentrated heat. when it rains, the temperature difference causes storms so strong that they often knock down trees. in times of drought, forest fires burn them down. these fires are usually started by humans. Paraguay also has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the region as a result of agribusiness.
San Bernardino is a city 50 km from the capital city of Asunción. it is located on the east side of Lake Ypacaraí and surrounded by the Cordillera de los Altos mountain range.
Its geographical location, very close to the humid Chaco, allows a mosaic of ecosystems where the dense deciduous forest (large native trees) and the wooded savannah of Copernia Alba (karanday palm) coexist. the streams complete the landscape, where the scenery is luxurious.
The socio-economic activity of the area is semi-rural. there are still small cottage industries that use firewood as fuel . there is a polarization in the way of living between the local inhabitants and the foreign landowners.
San Bernardino is a paradox. it is the summer city par excellence of the elites who choose it for its landscape and at the same time destroy it.
The construction site is located on a family plot of land in the city, on the slopes of a hill 3 km from the lake. a land with lush native vegetation, rock formations in sight and a stream on its south side.

The construction is positioned right on the ravine of the stream.


My mother's first idea after her son's death was to build a chapel. some time passed and the idea was transformed. she commissioned me to build a memorial. without saying much more. we agreed that it should include her orchid collection.
It is a family custom to celebrate the dates of death and birthdays of those who are no longer with us. the memorial could not be a space of contemplation as is customary. rather it was to be a space of celebration.
Thus it became the place chosen by the family to commemorate important moments, such as the dates of my brother, some end of the year celebrations, the before and after of my sister's marriage, other people's birthdays, countless reunions, a space to meet, to shelter joy and sorrow at the same time.
It became a place of cult for family and friends. because here we have developed a ritual for the place, linked to sharing time and food. without realizing it, it became the chapel originally wished for.
an open-air ceremonial space with a central nave and a half transept with an apsidiole included, that when it gets dark, a torch is lit that reflects the plates and gently illuminates the site and the absence.
Time did its thing. the walls of trunks that house the orchids generated fungi and allow the plants to climb at ease due to its humidity until becoming a roof. the ecosystem adds to the celebration. insects and reptiles , birds and domestic animals coexist here. quite often a hummingbird visits us.

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