Dear subscribers, readers
If you read our previous BLOGS you may remember that in Blog 4, we asked you to help us decide on a model for the cabins for New Life Peñol Wellness Retreat. At that time, the models we presented included A-Frame structures, Pine Wood Cabins, and a couple of other ideas.
Finally, after seven months of research, negotiations, WhatsApp messages, and (Zoom) meetings with our ARCHITECTS FROM DOT ARQUITECTURA (ANDREA AND LUIS) the final design is ready!
Back in April 2021, when we decided to buy the property in El Peñol/ Guatape, we engaged an architect for the design of a cabin. We focused on the models that were available and the number and size of the rooms. The process with DOT was very different. In this Blog, we will walk you through the various phases of the design process with DOT.
First, they visited our property. Not only to see the place but to also take soil samples. They used a long tube, which two men slammed into the ground to take out the soil at a depth of approximately two meters. SEE VIDEO HERE Then sent samples of the content of those tubes to a lab for analysis to ensure that the soil was good enough and to calculate the foundation required for each cabin at various locations on the property.
They also needed the document “Certificado de uso de suelo” (Certificate of use of the ground). This is a public document, in which the urban development and planning department establishes the specific provisions for a given property or fixed asset.
This simple document helped us discover a problem with the ownership of the property and realize that we were not able to apply for a construction permit without getting the approval from the other owners mentioned on the Deed of Ownership (Certificado de Tradición y Libertad). It appears that in Colombia you can buy a property that is still part of an undivided inheritance (This is not possible here in Curaçao. Here the notary must check that everything is legally split before a sale of the property can take place).
We will not go into further details in this blog, but suffice it to say, that because of this discovery, we contracted a lawyer to help us resolve the issue, and now after five months we are at a stage where we are waiting for the final resolution to register our property in our name.
During these five months, we continued the design processes. We used the time to explain our vision to our architects, they asked questions and studied our website to get to know us better. We were pleased that they gave us more ideas about how to allow the cabins and the experience of our guests to blend in with natural surroundings and landscaping. We wanted ecological, economical, durable cabins, which would cause minimal disturbance of nature during construction, and we wanted to preserve the landscape and its flora as much as possible. As you know, construction sites can be quite messy with concrete, and trucks, and often you see waste lying around. We wanted to prevent that if possible.
During our visit to Medellin, Colombia end of April 2022, we had our first personal meeting with Luis. He gave us a presentation and showed us four layouts by structuring the main components and areas that the cabins should have and explained how they would connect with each other. See the illustration below.
We were a bit taken by surprise (read: “mildly disappointed”) because we expected first to see models of the exterior. In the end, that is what designing is about, or so we thought. But during the presentation, it became clear to us that Luis wanted us to focus on the experience first and once we agreed on how the various components would interconnect and connect with the exterior, it would be easier to design the shell around the components.
Bottom line…. you just cannot build four walls with a roof on top and then place inner walls to divide the spaces 😊. It was a new and interesting approach and in retrospect it makes sense. We choose one of the layouts and asked them to go ahead with a design, in line with this philosophy.
By now you must know that patience and waiting are not Theo’s forte. At one point he asked DOT to send us a project plan with clear timelines. We wanted to start our business sooner rather than later and were not happy that months were passing by without us seeing even one cabin. DOT did send us a plan. But still, in Colombia, all goes “despacito” (slow) and we just must take that into account and adapt. Finally, we received the design options with just a little over 2 weeks’ delay.
On June 10th we had a Zoom meeting with Luis and Andrea (DOT) to present the volumetric design! First, they talked us through the process of why and how they reached the design. Then they showed us their ideas for the interior finishing. They also explained why they thought it was better to use certain materials and structures. Because of the results of the soil investigation, we needed to make changes in the choice of the foundation for the cabins. And they gave us two options for the exterior design. But still no final design.
After the presentation we choose Option 01 as shown in the above picture. We also requested some changes to the interior layout. Theo became very impatient again because he wanted to see the final exterior design and most importantly, he wanted to know the total cost.
After two weeks, they send us the final designs for both interior and exterior. At last, we could visualize what our Wellness Retreat would look like. We were incredibly happy! (see pictures below)
FRONT OF THE CABIN
BACK OF THE CABIN AND ENTRANCE
The colors and the choice of materials matched perfectly with what we had in mind. DOT explained the simplicity of this design and how it achieves our vision as stated at the beginning of the blog:
“We want ecological, economical, durable cabins, which would cause minimal disturbance of nature during construction, and we wanted to preserve the landscape and its flora as much as possible”
DOT told us that this design makes it possible to pre-fabricate small pieces at the factory, transport it to our property and assemble it there. This would not only keep the waste at a minimum, but it would also allow us to build faster while keeping transportation costs low. It seemed like a perfect idea to conserve the landscape and reduce debris and waste.
We asked for a light interior. We were pleased to see that the front of the structure was 95% windows and sliding glass doors. This gives a feeling of expansion and will allow our guests to connect with nature, and get that relaxed feeling of breathing fresh air. Our guests will be able to enjoy the sunset and quiet nights under the starry sky and a view of the glittering lights of the town of EL Peñol in the far distance. All while enjoying a glass of wine, or champagne in the private jacuzzi on the front porch.
Check out the visuals below and let us know if you like them in the comments at the end of this blog.
LIVING ROOM WITH VIEW OF BATHROOM
We want to keep the bathroom a surprise. But … we can give you just a hint: When nature calls, you will feel directly connected with nature.
SMALL MULTI-FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN
OVERVIEW OF LIVING / KITCHEN
PART OF THE BEDROOM
AND TO HELP YOU VISUALIZE THE BIG PICTURE:
DOT conducted extensive consultation with all the technicians and experts on the structure, electricity, water supply, gas, septic tanks, etc. On 22 July, they gave us a personal presentation of the project and handed over a full archive of the final plans and calculations. We are incredibly grateful for the excellent work they delivered and especially their professionalism, cooperativeness, and dedication. All we need now is for the lawyers to conclude the registration of our property (hopefully before the end of September 2022), to then obtain our cadastral registration number, and be able to request the permit to start building!
We hope that these impressions of our project put at least a little smile on your face
and helped you visualize the final result and think: “…It is ready, and I am there now!…”
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog! We do appreciate your reaction and encourage you to share your thoughts leave a comment or ask questions below. If you want to share this blog with your friends, we thank you in advance
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Photo credit: NESTOR ZAVARCE