The holiday home Casa Techos near the town of Villa la Angostura in Argentina’s Andean Patagonia is set in a beauty spot amidst a landscape of lakes, forests and snow-capped mountains. The architecture echoes and enhances its magnificent location overlooking lake Nahuel Huapi whose south side hosts the well-known winter resort of San Carlos de Bariloche.
Designed by Chilean architect Mathias Klotz, the villa stands squarely on a flat grassy woodland clearing. The south façade overlooks the lake while the north side abuts onto sharply sloping terrain. The building comprises two linear elements set one on top of the other, their different architectural features reflecting their different functions.
The main living area on the upper level is reached from the side backing up against the slope by means of a simple pedestrian bridge. Inside, a large open living room faces southward while three bedrooms occupy the west wing. The ground floor serves as the plinth for this upper storey that cantilevers decisively over the lawn, its floor slab in full view. In contrast, the east side of the lower level seems to emerge from the sloping terrain. Stone slab cladding along part of the walls adds to the impression that the building rises out of the earth. The lower floor houses the service zones, gym, two small, self-contained guest quarters, and a rectangular indoor swimming pool. A full-height glazed outer wall allows views onto the outside while the inner wall is clad in the same irregular pattern of stone slabs as the lower perimeter walls.
The architectural programme had to comply with local roof-pitch regulations. Instead of steep pitches, which would have raised the height of the roof and closed the volume underneath, the architect opted for a series of sawtooth lights set parallel to the long side. As well as complying with local building requirements, the design is fully in keeping with the streamline linear geometry of the whole building. Together with the ample glazed façades, the skylights contribute to the overall luminosity, which is mitigated, however, by a series of different sized patios cut into the building. While from the outside the building appears as a single, uncluttered block, the patios break up the compactness of the volume revealing a much more complex spatial interweave inside. Similarly, the long recessed balustrade running along the south side of the upper storey provides a protective setback for the spaces inside.
The villa’s structural frame clearly reveals the interior layout. Large unconcealed steel C-shaped beams mark out the spatial distribution and the long, shelf-lined corridor leading off to the individual rooms. Steel pillars and beams also mark out the covered patios, emphasising the villa’s compact structure. Essentially a single block from the outside, the villa has an interior characterised by continual variation: of luminosity, views onto the exterior, and types of living space.
Yet the architectural programme provides for continuity between inside and out – not just on account of the views the full-height glazed façades, strip windows, skylights and patios offer from all sides of the house. Continuity also comes from the cladding materials. On the upper level, the wood on external walls continues indoors with the wood flooring and soffits made of different sized wooden strips. The rough-stone outer facing on the lower part of the building flows into the basement floor. The pattern of different sized slabs on the stone facing turns into an uneven mosaic of small paving stones on the outside walkway running around the house. Inside, the large open fireplace in the middle of the living room and the two wall fireplaces in the bedrooms are also in stone, this time smoothed. Materials are brilliantly used to create both continuity and variety.