Besonias Almeida Arquitectos
Costa Esmeralda, Pinamar, Argentina
Besonías Almeida arquitectos
Florencia Testa (Architect Collaborator) Denisse Gerard (Collaborator)
Daniela Mac Adden
This situation of “lookout house” required by the clients was the first major challenge to undergo on the proposal. It was necessary to solve the issue of accessing the house once built, but also during the construction stage. So the project started to be generated from a ramp which, cutting the dune, will save the highest height possible, thus allowing access of materials and personnel during the execution and, once finished, would serve as a vehicular access to a parking area. From there it’s necessary to continue stairs up (outdoor and indoor) to the highest point of the dune to enjoy those spectacular views. The house was then volumetrically defined by the deep mark of the ramp and two superimposed to it and aligned with each other in the direction of the slope (oblique to the lot) and, with 1.20m height difference between them, fit in the relief of the dune. These two volumes orient one face to the north, so that all the rooms of the house receive sunlight controlled by overhangs and vertical partitions. The opposite south façade, with an opening on the volume of bedrooms that runs along its entire length, ensures illumination on circulations and allows cross ventilation. You reach the house by car or as a pedestrian up the ramp (with slope of 20%) to the partially covered garage with an attached tank. From there, saving an unevenness of a floor with a staircase also partially covered, you access to an open floor with one fixed element (counter – table – separator) which gives privacy to the kitchen sector in relation with the rest of the social area. The activities on this floor of the house have its expansion onto three terraces, which also fulfill the function of being places of contemplation of the surrounding landscape. Going up a staircase again, but this time indoor and bridging an intermediate level, is reached a circulation along which are accessible in the first place the main bathroom and then the three bedrooms. Two of the bathrooms in this sector, which are situated in the center of the plan, are illuminated and vented through openings in the roof.
Costa Esmeralda is a real estate development over the dunes on the coast, 390 km from Buenos Aires. This is a recent urban development with young acacias and pines forestation and some sectors of consolidated forest. The lot to intervene is a high rise dune with the peculiarity of having in part aged woods and also a recent pine plantation, although undoubtedly its most prominent feature is the abruptness of its relief. Between the access road and the highest sector of the lot, located approx. in the plot center, there is a height difference of 12 m, so that in order to access to it is necessary to ascend a slope of more than 45 °. The request was a house with an aesthetic-constructive proposal similar to those built in the forest of Mar Azul, appreciated by the clients both for its formal austerity as for the low maintenance required. Designed to be generally used by two families with young children, the house had to have a generous place for meetings, a kitchen visually integrated to it, and three bedrooms, two of them en suite. The house must also resolve the two quads and beach items storage. Also, and especially, the clients mentioned the need for the house to feature expansion terraces and large glass panels to enjoy the scenery, because they emphasized of the chosen location the distant views to a privileged environment: a dense young forest, that due to the characteristics of urbanization, is free from the possibility that neighboring buildings may modify it in the future.
The project was approached as an opportunity to propose forms, materials and alternative uses, in tune with an environment of outstanding natural beauty. The search was then oriented towards a propositive architecture of a more relaxed use of the house and whose materiality and formalization was the result of a will to belong to that pre-existing reality. The need to capture light in the deep woods led to conceive the housing as a "partially covered" and to solve it with large panes of glass, which from the inside will enable views in all directions and from the outside will reflect the landscape enabling the house to mimic the forest. The decision to accelerate the execution times so as to monitor the work 400 km away determined the exposed concrete construction. We assessed that the prevailing shade allowed the use of this material, since it provides sufficient thermal protection from spring to late autumn. Its winterization, given its status as a summer house, was not relevant (though of course it was planned) and the hydrophobic insulation could be solved with an exposed concrete of high compactness and a study of the envelope shape so that the evacuation of rainwater could be fast. It was also expected that the expressive quality of the exposed concrete molded in a formwork of wooden boards would result as a forceful and simultaneously mimetic presence, thus allowing the work to coexist in harmony with the landscape. In short, an envelope of only two materials: concrete and glass turned out to be proper to resolve the integration with the landscape and respond to formal, structural, functional, completions and maintenance issues.