OCHO QUEBRADAS HOUSE
LOS VILOS, Chile
The fact that real need or more conventional ways of living are taken care by the “first residence”, was an opportunity to explore a radical erasure of clichés. Let’s put it this way: if during the week a guy has to wear a tie, it is very likely that during weekends he allows himself to wear shorts and walk barefoot. So, why not look at the weekend house as the ultimately retreat where people can allow themselves to go back to a more essential living? We chose to move backwards towards the archaic, not as a nostalgic escape but as a natural filter against the clichés of innovation. In an era where the hunger for novelty is threatening architecture to become immediately obsolete, we looked for timelessness.
Historically, private houses, particularly in Modernism, have been a way to push the boundaries of the discipline. It’s a combination of having just one person to convince about bold moves and a size that makes technical experimentation feasible. We became interested in this commission because it had two extra components that are normally considered a bad sign for good architecture: the client was a developer and it was a week-end house, the ultimate banality.
The great thing about being a real estate operation was that it had no client to convince. We accepted this project on the condition that it will be only us defining in which direction to push the boundaries. We fully accepted though, the constraints from the developer: a built area of 250m2, a program of 4 bedrooms, with their bathrooms and a budget of $2,000 dollars per square meter.
Such primitiveness was also carried to the material hardness of the construction. The geography was so brutal, that only a very basic self-contained set of elements was appropriate. The wind is constant to the point of being irritating. The Pacific Ocean here is not pacific at all; the water is white do to the violence while meeting the earth.
So, we thought of 3 concrete volumes: an horizontal one, slightly cantilevering on top of the cliff and self sufficient for a couple to use it without having to open the rest of the house. Then a vertical one, with the guest rooms. In between these two, a slightly leaning and hollowed one containing a fire; not a chimney (which is already something civilized), but a fire (which is one of the most revolutionary yet old achievements of mankind)