overlooking the Pacific Ocean
The Ocho Quebradas program to build a series of holiday residences along a spectacular stretch of Chilean coast continues. Chilean and Japanese architects - professionals well acquainted with earthquakes being from countries lying on the Pacific Ocean Ring of Fire - have been enlisted to each build an architectural experiment. Their task: to explore expressive and technical ways of creating architecture that connects with its natural setting. In this particular case, Ryue Nishizawa had to contend with harsh, even extreme, conditions: the overwhelming presence of the ocean, both visually and acoustically. Perched on a small rocky promontory jutting into the sea, the residence designed by the practice succeeds in melding with the rocky terrain. An undulating concrete roof fits effortlessly into the environment, creating distinctive light-filled living spaces beneath, enclosed by frameless laminated glass walls forming a completely transparent boundary between interior and exterior.
The key element of this holiday home is its sinuous yet imposing 30 cm-thick reinforced concrete roof that descends to the ground in places to divide the space beneath. The curving concrete slab rises at the tip facing the ocean, the elegant geometry the result of considerable technical and construction prowess. Although slipping seamlessly into its natural location, the undulated roof slab is a salient feature in the landscape. It can be read either as a natural outcrop rising from the depths of the Earth to course perpendicularly down towards the sea or as an element that has been gently laid on the rocky terrain. The variations in the undulating roof divide the interior space into different rooms as the shape progresses towards the edge of the rocky promontory. Shielded by generous eaves,
the full-height glass walls follow the curving section of the roof to provide uninterrupted views, inundating the interiors with light that changes as the sun gradually moves west. A clearly marked out walkway on the east side of the house leads to the entrances and the outside space on the side of the building that serves as a terrace. The northern end of the house has its own entrance and features a soberly furnished sauna with a deep circular tub sunk into the ground. This part of the building also contains one bedroom, a bathroom, storage, and laundry room.
From here, the rest of the house stretches out like a pathway towards the ocean, the interiors an integral part of the land- and sea-scape all around. Spatial distribution is marked out by the different furniture. The wooden kitchen units form a separate specialist area while the dining room opens on to the terrace shielded by the large oblique overhang of the roof as it reaches out towards the rocky cliff above the ocean. The house culminates in the living area, where the informal main entrance is also located.
Simple essential materials are the hallmark of the house. Timber flooring stretching the full width of the plan meets the glazed walls and roof overhang. The second smaller space contains the master bedroom and follows the same criteria as the larger unit. Facing the sea from a more secluded spot below the main building, this room is reached by an underground tunnel connecting it to the main living spaces. Its earth- and grass-covered roof turns it into an artificial cave. Like the main living spaces, this smaller private unit is based on the premise of a building designed to be one with nature.
Location: Los Vilos, Chile - Completion Date: 2019 - Building Area: 498 m2
Total Floor Area: 322 m2 - Architect: Ryue Nishizawa - Design Team:
Kenichi Fujisawa. Former staff: Katsunori Ono, Taeko Nakatsubo - Local Architects:
Eric Meinardus, Sarah Bosch - Main Contractor: Jara y Asociados
Structural: Luis Soler P. & Asociados,
Arup Japan - Project Management: Eduardo Godoy, Philippe Godoy - Lighting: Eduardo Godoy - Plumbing: Patricio Moya
Heating: IS&C, Jaga - Electrical:
Julio Rojas - Geotechnical: Geocav
Aluminum Façade System: Schüco
Text by Francesco Pagliari
Photography by Cristobal Palma
Portrait image courtesy of Ryue Nishizawa