House with patio
Guillermo Hevia + Catalina Poblete
Guillermo Hevia, Catalina Poblete
Pedro Gonzalez, Felipe Droppelmann, Enzo Valladares
The house with patio is a project located at a lake in the south of Chile. The client is a large family that knows the place for more than 30 years, so it was not necessary to design the house based on the view, which is what interests tourists. Their history camping at the site allowed them to understand that the place is not just the lake, but a much more richer and complex ecosystem.
The climate was a fundamental factor for the design and the patio is not only an element that creates new relationships with the context but also a climatic device that allows the climate to be transformed into the main concept. It lets natural ventilation and sunlight penetrate all spaces, considering that the site is facing the south and is located 1000 km south of Santiago, the capital of Chile, in a temperate oceanic climate where the average temperature is 10ºC and rains around 2400 mm per year. This makes direct sunlight highly desirable in both winter and summer.
The surrounding context lacks a relevant urban or constructive tradition. In the multiple trips that we have made through Ranco Lake in recent years, we discovered an anonymous wooden mid-20th century shed that is located in the north access of the town of Futrono, which has a structural system based on pillars, struts, and beams. As the initial design decision, we took this structural precedent to create the narrative and translated it to the project.
The project establishes a dialogue with the Klenner Shed, by translating its structural principle based on pillars, struts, and beams; but above all, with its protocols and design strategies. This decision allowed the wooden exoskeleton and roof to be mounted in one month and the house to be built in less than a year, allowing to work every day during the eight-month rainy season. The exoskeleton structures the house and the program, and separates it from the ground, being simultaneously a constructive, a climatic, and an economic strategy, reducing future maintenance associated with wooden construction.
The four (or eight) sides of the house are a statement against the commonplace that implies “turning towards the view” and understanding that the place is multiscalar and multidirectional, in other words, that the lake is as important as the mountains, the forests, the shrubs, and the grasses that grow on the ground.
The patio allows understanding that humans are not the only users. Non-humans such as native species and animals live as the house is not there, by reducing the supports to points that don’t interrupt them.
The program is organized by a single circulation around the patio, which allows introducing a continuous movement around a succession of public and private spaces. The interior enclosures are configured from the structural repetition (every 2 meters) where wood acts as the unifying element. Repetition allows for programmatic and spatial variation, managing to configure different types of spaces based on small operations, specific needs, and lightweight divisions.
The challenge was double. From one side there was a structural-material challenge. The exoskeleton allowed to complete the house in less than a year by having the wooden structure prefabricated and assembled exposed, and then completed internally with the installations, interiors, and finishes in the following rainy months. This was complemented with a large and extended roof that covered and protected, by design, all the wooden elements, meaning it is climatically isolated but visually and conceptually exposed. The main threat of wood is water, and its use is avoided in rainy locations because of its inefficient maintenance costs when is left exposed. In this case, the design was the strategy to allow sustainable material performance over the years.
From the other side, there is an argument that a house is not a singular project but an arena for disciplinary speculation. Being an office of 2-3 people with a project located 1,000 km from where we are based, it was difficult to control construction, details, and contingencies. This restriction led us to develop a design strategy based on the concept of structural systems. The strategy has been to condense the whole project into a single section, highly detailed, which is then repeated to make up the whole. This allows escaping from projects full of exceptions and details, which are costly in resources, time, and manpower, by transforming repetition and variation from an operation to a concept replicable to other projects and scales, that we are developing in our studio now.