2018

MCHAP.emerge

Two Houses

Julia Capomaggi and Laura Geraci

Carcarana, Argentina

December 2017

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Julia Capomaggi Laura Geraci

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Eugenia Velazquez (collaborator) Florencia Galindez (collaborator) Carlos Marcial Irigoitia (Constructor)

AUTHOR

CASA S.A.

PHOTOGRAPHER

Agustin Diaz Bardelli

OBJECTIVE

The continuous “S” shape of the perimeter expands the envelope to achieve a maximum exposed surface. The envelope, which becomes a double skin in front of some windows, creates thresholds, and along with the upper and lower courtyards it carves out interstitial spaces that promote cross-ventilation and operate as a sustainable climate control mechanism that guarantees the comfort demand parameters though a passive cooling system. The use of exposed earthen brick is not only the most traditional and widespread construction technique in this region, it is also the common denominator in this urban fabric, one that is esthetically accepted and incorporated into the urban domestic imaginary. The bricks are handmade with local materials, crafted by a local workforce that has developed expertise in manipulating the irregularly-sized pieces. The brick covers the entire surface of the houses, from walls to roof to floor indistinctly. It serves as a structural element, becomes both enclosure and finishing, and constructs the massive expression of the volume. The brick takes on its different roles by changing the pattern and quality of the boundaries and gradually filtering the sunlight in some specific perforations but never interrupting the continuous surface that confers texture on the volume.

CONTEXT

“Two houses” are two single-family houses located in Carcaraña, a town in a region known as the humid pampas which is predominantly defined by its homogeneous square grid, as many Argentinian towns are. In this case, the grid is subdivided by narrower streets (passages) into rectangular blocks that multiply the exceptionality of the corners . The typology developed by Italian immigrants, named the “chorizo house,” defined the main kind of urban dwelling and constructed the image of the cities in the region. This typology is a variation of the Pompeian house, which was subdivided and adapted to the American urban subdivision by splitting the courtyard house in half to adapt it to a long and narrow plot that is comprised of an enfilade of rooms running along a courtyard. The plan for the houses is based on a typological distortion of the chorizo house, which is divided and mirrored. The transversal and the longitudinal axes of the houses mirror each other both horizontally and vertically. The houses occupy the perimeter of the plot and transform it into a continuous band with variations in height and thickness throughout. The space is subdivided horizontally, instead of lengthwise like the chorizo house. The two “L” houses are higher at the ends and descend in the center, making a three-dimensional "S" shape. The houses play with the ambiguity of each being different yet not individually distinguishable, of being a distorted copy of each other.

PERFORMANCE

The two mirrored L-shaped houses are organized around two courtyards on two levels. The courtyards take on the role of two outdoor rooms that maximize contact between the interior and exterior. The living room, kitchen, and dining room are separated from the courtyard by a glass wall of sliding windows to minimize the presence of any boundary and blur the functional limit of each room, while expanding domestic life to the courtyard, which acts as an outdoor living room, dining room, or kitchen. Similarly, on the upper level, another courtyard expands the activities related to the bedroom s. Both courtyards combined widen the visual angle of the sky from every room. From the upper floor, the views of the houses cross each other along the longest diagonal of the plot of land, bisecting the courtyards along the low points of the roof. The houses thus create their own landscape by dissolving the subdivision between the properties and promoting a new type of community that maximizes and redefine the neighbor relationship. As a result, the houses are expressed by the singularity of the volume, but not diluted by the repetition of many. One house is a replica of the other yet is not just more of the same. One house is a loose copy of the other, and both are original and singular models, melted and integrated into a curved fillet where the property boundaries are imprecise.