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Architectural composition for extreme climate conditions

Guimpert Atelier Architecture

By Diana Carta -

Architecture is bounded by rules, whether imposed by man or nature. Yet, complying with the rules does not necessarily lead to quality architecture. Something else is required: the ability to understand their significance within a context, and challenge the character and perception of a particular site. Confronted with the special geographical and climate features of the town of Huentelauquén and the specifications laid down by the Agua Dulce condominium to which his client’s G+D House belongs, architect Eduardo Guimpert proposed an open, flexible and sustainable architectural solution. 

Every design decision of this project springs from the building’s location: the arid, rocky, windswept shrubland of Coquimbo, a region at the southern end of the Atacama Desert a few hours’ drive from Chile’s capital, Santiago. Despite the inhospitable conditions, considerable construction has gone on over the years, including vacation and weekend homes, also thanks to the availability of electricity and water supplies, this latter from a desalination plant. The Agua Dulce condominium has reserved several plots for residential use, laying down urban planning and construction rules, such as a restricted palette of permitted materials and colors, shapes, and the building’s base. 

Given the constraints of site and specifications, it is no surprise that Guimpert’s first consideration was to take into account the extreme climate: fierce sunlight and virtually incessant winds. His solutions to the limits imposed by man and geography are exemplars of original yet functional design. 

The building’s skin is an exercise in porosity, protecting the house from solar exposure and strong winds while allowing views onto the landscape from within. As well as offering occupant privacy and shelter, the elevations also hide equipment and mechanicals as required by the condominium regulations. In addition,...

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