Best Retreat
Wallpaper|February 2022
Ballen Houses, El Retiro, Colombia, by LCLA Office and Clara Arango
By Ellie Stathaki. Photographs Luis Callejas

Sculptural concrete architecture; an expansive, wild, native species garden; and a rural setting with a pleasant climate in a popular destination: there’s plenty to love about this new residential project in the Colombian countryside by Oslo-based architecture studio LCLA Office and local architect Clara Arango. But it’s the carefully planned harmony of the above elements, its attention to nature, and a healthy dose of openmindedness and can-do attitude that really elevates this project from a great house to a truly idyllic retreat.

It all started with a commission that landed on the desk of practice directors Luis Callejas and Charlotte Hanson from a friend from Colombia, who is currently based in Mexico and came to them with an unusual brief. He wanted to create a domestic base in Colombia, which he could use in the more distant future as a main home. In the meantime, before he moves in permanently, he wanted to make the most of it as an unofficial artistic retreat. He saw it as a place to meet friends, but also to open to artists visiting the area on an informal basis.

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