Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Casa Ecco is a luxury sustainable home in La Antigua, Guatemala. Tucked on the jungled slopes of Volcán de Fuego and surrounded by the two other giants of the region: Volcán Acatenango and Volcán de Agua,  Casa Ecco‘s design has been greatly influenced by its environment. Respect for the existing vegetation, directed views, adaptation to the topography and sustainability have all been key architectural elements that have greatly influenced the final design of Casa Ecco.

Being one of the first sustainable architecture projects in Guatemala, the premises of Casa Ecco have been, and continue to be, to share with its guests the experience of living in a home that is both sustainable and luxurious. This monumental eco friendly project has been led by the P&A Patricia Arenas Architecture Studio.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

A Sustainable Home made with Shipping Containers

Shipping container architecture is a growing trend for sustainable homes. The main reason behind its increasing acceptation is that the human scale of shipping containers is adequate, which means that they’re great when planning livable spaces, like homes.  In Casa Ecco, shipping containers were used as a way of incorporating recycled structures and materials to the constructive process.

Using shipping containers is not an easy task. They need to be reconditioned and adapted to their future use.  Therefore, the need to secure a correct and efficient use of energy, as well as improving the thermic and acoustic behaviors of the containers’ structure were paramount to the project.

Shipping containers have great thermic qualities. Adapting and taking advantage of these thermic properties involved improving the insulation of the containers, but also meant improving their natural ventilation capabilities.

Although guaranteeing the reusability of the materials was important, one of the priorities of the project was to do so while reducing emissions, waste and energetic consumption to the least possible.  The overall material and resource optimization is what makes Casa Ecco a marvelous example of sustainable architecture.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Solar Powered Energy

Being able to include renewable energies is the ultimate dream of any sustainable home architect. The best advantage of using solar energy is that it’s unlimited and free. Casa Ecco has three different solar powered systems in place:

1. Solar Panels.

Solar panels generate electricity, which is used in two different ways. The first, and more obvious one, is supplying the electricity demand of the house. The second one, when no electricity is needed for the home, introduces the electricity back into the public electric supply. Serving as a generator means that the electricity counter counts backwards, therefore reducing the total electricity bill at the end of the month.

2. Solar Water Heaters.

This circuit of vacuumed tubes harnesses the rays of sun, which in turn heat the water supply of the kitchen, bathrooms, etc. This system even works in cloudy days. Nonetheless, when there is no sun, the whole process shifts into a conventional heating system with a traditional electrical resistance. 

3. Solar Water Heater for the swimming pool.

The water of the swimming pool is slowly circulated through a big collector on the roof of the house. This process, which is highly efficient and of very low maintenance, is also a great way of harnessing solar energy in a very cost-effective way.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Landscaped Roofs

Green landscaped roofs serve as a way of giving back to nature the surface that the construction had taken away from it. Moreover, this type of roofs have a set of extra benefits. Green roofs increase thermic and acoustic insulation while recovering rain water. They are a great way of reducing pollution levels and help create new habitats for the wildlife of the area. Plus, they improve the landscape!

Organic Garden

Any reputable sustainable home has its own organic garden, and Casa Ecco isn’t the exception. Seasonal vegetables, fruit trees, local spices and medicinal plants are available year round for the guests to enjoy. This self-managed orchard only uses natural processes without any chemical fertilizers and produces its own organic compost.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Ecological Swimming Pool

In an ecological swimming pool, the purification process is done by plants that help oxygenate the water. This process also eliminates the nutrients that cause algae formation and the spread of other undesirable microorganisms.

The depuration area consists of a smaller pool filled with sand, gravel, volcanic stone and plants. Because the purification area must be separated from the actual swimming area, all the water must be pumped through with a hydraulic valve, which is powered by the solar panels. At the same time, the water is heated through its solar powered heaters, as explained before.

Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Recycled Materials

Minimizing the carbon footprint is one of the principals of a sustainable home. To do so, all the materials must be reused to the limit of their possibilities, but always keeping the aesthetics of the project as a whole. The furniture in a sustainable home is also a big part of the process.

Recycling has been part of the whole design process of Casa Ecco. Discarded parts of the shipping containers have been reused as architectural elements, walls, ceilings, etc. Discarded materials from the construction have also been reused into filling material for non-structural walls. This avoids having them dumped on landfills.

Furniture has also been adapted from discarded materials. As such, stone and wood have been reused to create seating modules and tables. The reuse of discarded materials diminishes the pollution created by the construction of the house. It also makes the construction more efficient as it saves in transportation.

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Photo Credit: Mathieu Hutin (

Waste water treatment

Casa Ecco is a sustainable home that is meant to be used every day. The project counts with two different systems for waste treatment and the recovery of rain water.

In order to treat waste waters, Casa Ecco counts with a Biodigester, which makes water reusable for non-human purposes. The waste water is stored in a container, where it is mixed with recovered rain water, which allow it to be pumped into the watering and cleaning systems.The system also drains the overflows into a pit, which is designed to reduce the speed of water, therefore avoiding the erosion of the land.

The Team behind Casa Ecco

The team behind Casa Ecco has worked very dynamically. Architects, Engineers, Landscape Designers, Decorators and Contractors have all taken part in the conceptualization of the project in a great teamwork effort, all led by Architect Patricia Arenas.

Architecture Studio: P&A Patricia Arenas
Architects: Patricia Arenas, Franklin Contreras, Jaime Castillo.
Interior Designers: Patricia Arenas y Alejandra Palomo
Landscape Designers: Terre de Vie, Oliver Olivier Voisin y Lola Bleynat
Construction Direction: Emilio Xobin
Structures and Installations: Carlos Sánchez, Hugo Nájera y Viviana Escobar
Ecological Swimming Pool: Ricardo Roesch, Oscar García (Aquagreen) y Edgar Morales (ITM Pools)
Branding: Sharon Cohen (Martes Creativo)
Photography: Mathieu Hutin 
Suppliers: Fraterno Vila (Enertiva), Ferco, Roberto Urruela (German Windows), Carlos Buenaventura (MSA), El Mástil, Juan Pablo Arteaga DMarie, Enrique Chanchavac (Dynamic Electronics) Félix García (Metalworks Santo Domingo), Carlos García (Estructumadera), El Escorpión (Decorative Lamps), German Arauz (Plumbery), Carlos Soberanis (containers), Marco Tulio Aguilar (Empresa Aluminio),Alfonso Castillo ( AguaLimpia ), Vicente Piche (Stoneworking Artisan)

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Founder of Offcyclers + Overall Sustainable Design geek. When Diego isn't scouting for the most incredible Sustainable Design & Art, he is probably trotting the globe, photographing or filming any story he thinks needs to be told.

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