The house is located on a long, narrow, fairly steep plot running north-south, with a highway passing along its upper perimeter and a street bordering its southern extremity. The upper storeys provide splendid views of the beach and bay. The terrain presented two problems: firstly, its southward projection means it receives very little sunlight and secondly, regulations oblige a maximum elevation of 7.5 m from the ground. Hence our decision to locate the house on the highest point, as close to the highway as possible, and create a series of distinct volumes following the natural gradient so as to exploit the 7.5 m regulation to the full, thus maximizing natural light and views.
The highway-facing facade comprises translucent thermal glazing that glows at night like a long horizontal lamp. The building itself literally “bursts out” over the slope. Depending on your angle of view, the house either seems to hover above its plot or is part of the wooded landscape with its outer coating of oxidized copper.
Made up of three superimposed “boats” or “leaves” set at different angles and linked together by glass-covered ramps, this zigzagging configuration offers a variety of views of both the house itself and the town. The main bedroom is at the top of the house, the living-dining room-kitchen area on the intermediate level while the children's rooms are on the bottom. Volume distribution has been designed to suggest a branch with green leaves.
Although certain formal aspects may seem arbitrary at first sight, they are absolutely necessary: the north-facing translucent thermal glazing overlooking the road lets in the winter daylight while excluding noise; the descending array of superimposed “boats” provides a series of different views and allows elevation to 7.5 m throughout.
The stone and green patina-covered copper blend the building with its natural environment. The stone is typical of the Zapallar area while copper is Chile’s main export product.