Tiny prefab bridges innovation and harmony in the Galápagos Islands

SULA - Diana Salvador, Galápagos Islands

Architect Diana Salvador has unfurled her latest masterpiece, SULA, a residential haven nestled in the heart of the Galápagos Islands. Named after the suliformes bird genus ‘piqueros,’ this cabin is more than just a structural marvel; it’s a testament to marrying innovative construction with unwavering environmental responsibility.
Prefabricated in Quito, Ecuador, and assembled on Santa Cruz Island, this tiny home showcases a profound commitment to minimizing ecological impact while providing a harmonious living space for a family deeply rooted in the Galápagos for over four decades.

The SULA home took shape over two months, a meticulous process involving 17,000 screws and nearly 2,000 custom-made components crafted from wood, metal, aluminum, and glass. What sets it apart is not just its innovative design but the audacious journey it undertook. Disassembled in Quito, it made its way to Santa Cruz Island, overcoming logistical challenges that underscore its commitment to environmental responsibility.

SULA’s standout feature lies in its scalability, transport flexibility, and adaptability to diverse surroundings. Leveraging industrialized construction processes, Salvador’s creation represents a leap forward in resource efficiency and a shift in construction paradigms. It’s not just a building; it’s an experiment, validating the hypothesis that construction can enhance collective well-being while minimizing its carbon footprint. SULA exemplifies a radical reimagining of construction and the evolving role of women in architecture.

The architectural prowess of SULA isn’t just skin deep; it marries function with interior comfort through bioclimatic strategies validated by dynamic thermal simulations. Elevated to harness air currents for improved ventilation and energy efficiency, the structure’s walls and roof form a double-layered sanctuary. Perforations in the floor and walls foster cross-ventilation, creating a living space that breathes.
Moreover, the elevated structure isn’t fixed in stone. It’s designed like a large-scale LEGO set, ready to be disassembled and relocated—an embodiment of SULA’s commitment to adaptability and respect for nature. Foundations made of gavions, easily dismantled and soil-friendly, further reinforce this commitment.

SULA’s architectural poetry unfolds through the orchestration of five primary materials—wood, stone, metal, glass, and PVC—all used with purity and proportionality to create an environmentally balanced structure. Plywood takes center stage, serving as the backbone for the structure, interior walls, furniture, and ceiling. Precision in its format, coupled with mechanized cutting processes, ensures optimal resource utilization. Roofs don PVC sheets, doubling as waterproof umbrellas, fortifying the cabin’s resilience against the elements.
SULA is more than a dwelling; it’s a profound statement, a blend of artistry and environmental stewardship that stands as a guiding light for the future of sustainable architecture.

Diana Salvador

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