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2014 MCHAP

Altamira Residential Building

Rafael Iglesia

Rosario, Argentina

January 2001






This project intends to highlight two main aspects: first, the inquiry about what a dwelling apartment is and how it works; second, the resolution of the structural matter. Deleuze introduces a description of two games of opposing functioning, Chess and Go, a description that may well illustrate two ways of working within Architecture. In a codified Architecture, its elements operate as chess pieces: an inner nature or intrinsic properties defining their essence. Thus, a window is always a window, a door is a door, a beam a beam, and this is proven in every element. They have designed roles and movements. This building aims to achieve the opposite. What it is shown are only the beams, treated as simple units which function is anonymous, collective and of a third person, as the Go pieces. Perhaps, they will “act” their roles, to support something, and those roles will depend on the place they occupy in the space. The persistent beam moves around, constructing, destroying, skirting, going up and down, supporting, lingering, going away and disappearing when least expected, without altering the unity. Within "the Work" the beam may become the hero or the butler, appearing or disappearing only when that is required for destiny to be fulfilled.


Located in Rosario, near Paraná River shore, Altamira building is situated in a typical small lot between party walls, on a narrow downtown street of the colonial regular grid. Flanked by a residential high-rise building at the west and a two-storeyed historically protected house at the east, the building leans upon the west party wall opening towards the riverside, reaching the views over the neighboring low rise constructions. The ground floor is a double height garden where the sidewalk paving indicates the entrance and the facade is only the structure. This project intends to highlight two main aspects: first, the inquiry about what a dwelling apartment is and how it works; second, the resolution of the structural matter. The Modern Movement did not only bequeath to us its aesthetics, but also its ethics: for example, in a dwelling house, the specificity of its functions showed us that there was a room for parents (for procreation), and another for children (two, if they were of different sex). This functional specificity is what is questioned in this building, since the traditional family structure has changed.


The flexibility of this project allows different possible combinations and configurations of the apartments. The layout of the units is a free plan with a service inner core, and a separated room accessible from the balcony. The infrastructure has been distributed in the plan in a way that users could add bathrooms or move the kitchen according to their needs. The public fire escape staircase creates double height spaces which are occupied with private stairs connecting two levels. The private stair allows the configuration of duplex apartments or lofts without adding square meters to the plan simply by using or nullifying this scissor stairs. The lack of functional specificity of the units grants innumerable disposition possibilities to its users. The occupant passes through the balcony to access the unit. This sequence of an internal patio in which exterior spaces gives access to each room comes from one traditional type of housing in Argentina that could be defined as the Roman courtyard house split in half. This project intends to be a link between tradition and contemporary patchwork family.

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