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Engawa House

Hung between Rock and Sky

Santiago Valdivieso | Stefano Rolla

Engawa House
By Caterina Testa -

Designed and built by Stefano Rolla and Santiago Valdivieso on the Chilean promontory of Punta Pite along the rocky Pacific coast, Engawa House fits into its setting and is accessible thanks to the landscaping project by Teresa Moller. Occupying the last available plot on this exclusive coastal condominium, this summer residence of an important Chilean lawyer combines the client’s requests with an architecture of striking rigueur.

The initial request to build a platform on which to rest a prefabricated structure turned into a brief to design a full-fledged residence in the form of a parallelepiped volume that would reach out over the impervious rocky coastline as it fell away to the sea.

The initial idea of a prefabricated structure became a reiterated modular structure whose sartorial design meets the demands of both location and occupants. The versatile, adaptable project fulfils two functions: as a secluded protected refuge but also as a panoramic terrace from which to admire the natural beauty all around. The relationship between exterior and interior - between the natural coastal landscape and intimate personal space - changes constantly thanks to a system of sliding movable panels that can either completely open up an interior or partition it off from view. Hence the name of the house in reference to Japanese architectural traditions where sliding panels enable a range of spatial and functional variety.

The oriental tradition has here been translated into a variable section outer gallery clad in sliding panels of rauli wood running around a central glass and steel volume, shielding it from prying eyes as well as from direct sunlight. Oriented on a north-south axis, its long sides facing east and west, this platform house rests directly on the ground to the south, gradually as it cantilevers over the rocks, becoming supported first by a series of steel pilotis and finally by a nest of four oblique red-painted steel...

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