The vision for Dwelling in Symbiosis started when we met in the UK, and discovered that we were each on a journey of exploration, asking deep questions about how we dwell in the world. We wanted to understand how the act of dwelling itself could become a space for personal transformation, where nature and the human condition can thrive in synergy with one another.

Eleanor McIntyre de Pineda    


Since studying to be an architect at the Universities of Manchester and Bath, I have been exploring how our built surroundings can facilitate a heightened sense of aliveness. After working at various British practices such as Feilden Clegg Bradley, this search has taken me to work at Arcosanti, an ‘urban laboratory’ in Arizona and then to South Africa to practice at Natural Architecture for a number of years. Returning to the UK became a journey of converting a van as a mobile home for the practice of on-site architecture combined with an exploration of frugality. These ideas to do with the art of living and design-build architecture are evolving everyday as, through the Dwelling in Symbiosis project, we connect with the wildness of nature, the beauty of the creative process and the wholeness of the human condition.


Selected past projects:


2018. Dodds Hall, Yorkshire – Refurbishment and restoration of a traditional stone barn to become a home and centre for Horse Assisted Therapy. Designed with planning permission.


2017. Therapeutic Landscape, South Wales – Designing an adapted house, hydro-therapy suite, tea room and annex as part of a semi-rural centre to nourish the Disabled. The buildings, designed closely into the landscape, intend to enliven day-to-day experiences, offering restoration. Designed with planning permission.


2017. Van, UK – Design and self-build of a VW Crafter to become a space for living, finding special places to temporarily inhabit and explore an architectural process of designing solely on-site.


2014 to 2017. Work at Natural Architecture, Cape Town – Including a dance hall, a therapy space and a number of private homes. I contributed as an architectural designer through design modelling, detailed drawings and site consultation for the construction of organically sculptural architecture.


2015. Amphitheatyre, Cape Town – Creating an outdoor stage with playful seating for a primary school using locally available recycled materials. Organising the build with a group of about ten participants.


2014. Work at Tree House Life, UK – In the wild, designing tree houses for children and adults, which were being built as the design was happening.


2013. Arcosanti, Arizona – Working and living at the utopian city development for three months, for a part in the architecture office and another part building a terraced ‘heat blanket’ greenhouse.

Sergio Pineda Velez


Before the Dwelling in Symbiosis project, I was an architect, academic and researcher based in the UK. I studied first at Los Andes University in Bogota and then at the Architectural Association in London. Afterwards I joined Foster + Partners and other architectural practices in London to work on various international projects. In 2009 I joined Cardiff University and developed research and teaching projects for nine years. As a design researcher I collaborated with artists and scientists including choreographers, sound artists, hydrologists and crystallographers. After a number of life-transforming experiences, I co-founded the Dwelling in Symbiosis project with my life-partner. This has brought us to live in the Colombian rainforest to enable a unique space for creative exploration and collaboration.


Selected past projects:


2015 to 2018. The Grammar of Crystallographic Expression, Cardiff – A Leverhulme-funded project for which I was the principal investigator. The core team included three crystallographers and two architects. The work was published and shown in journals, conferences and shows in Cardiff, Ann Arbour, and Berlin.


2017. Global Gardens Propagation Space, Cardiff – Collaboration with the Cardiff-based action group Global Gardens to design and build a small building to facilitate urban agriculture.


2016. 10,000 pencils, Barcelona – 100 architecture students came together to create a spatial installation at the CCCB in Barcelona, using 10,000 pencils. The work was featured in local press and television.


2014. Dance Orb, Cardiff – Collaboration with the Chloe Loftus dance group in Cardiff to design and build a tensegrity structure for a dance performance that toured the UK and Europe.


2012. Hydromeme, Medellin – Workshop, exhibition and publication as part of the Architectural Association Visiting School in Medellin. Included collaboration with Hydrologists in Medellin. 


2007 to 2009. Work at Foster + Partners, London – As an architectural designer I contributed to projects related to stadium design and high-rise architecture in Barcelona, Shanghai, Dubai and other cities.


2005 to 2006. Work at Adjaye Associates, London – As an architectural designer I contributed to projects for art spaces in Denver and New York.

Dwelling in Symbiosis