San Crescente Housing ensemble.
Las Condes, Chile
Cristián Izquierdo L.
Francisco Saul, Pablo Lobos, Luis Soler P. y Asociados / Juan Erenchun Soler
The construction is conceived as a unitary volume facing the street, structured by two superimposed models. Longitudinally, a series of wooden elements defines a gradient of intimacy between the street and the back of the plot. Transversely, a series of concrete walls divide the total volume into 5 equal bays.
Longitudinally there are no walls but a series of filters. We placed in front of the sidewalk a light fence with a long seat, then a common-use basement of 5 x 40 m. raised above the street, and then a continuous eaves of 180 cm. marking the access route to each house. Below it, the houses open onto the common courtyard through windows arranged between pine uprights. This modulation is only interrupted by 5 identical lenga-wood doors that access the dwellings. Once inside, a structure of pillars, beams, lattices and shelves frames with diffuse borders the different rooms of the common area, which open to a private patio at the end of the lot. The patios and the street are visually connected across this framing structure.
Transversally, the walled bearing structure coincides with that of the property. A continuous underground houses parking lots, storage and service areas. On the first floor, 6 concrete walls divide the volume into 5 houses of 8.16 cm. wide, paired on both sides. The second floor contains the bedrooms in a continuous bar facing the street.
This group of five houses is located in a garden neighborhood near the financial center of Santiago, on a corner plot with an unusual front to the street (50 meters’ width) and an irregular perimeter. Given the high price of the land, its low constructability and the profits expected by potential investors, a traditional real-estate business implied selling units at unaffordable prices for prospective users. Therefore, we developed the blueprint of the project, the constructor estimated its total costs, and we then gathered a group of 5 families interested in living there. We bought the plot and developed the project without business margins. All the design decisions were discussed with the prospective residents, and between them, till reaching standard agreements for the 5 houses.
The laminated wood structure is arranged under a 76 cm continuous modulation. The repetition of this module enables to break the diagonal view between houses and qualifies the facades with a constant rhythm that masks the differences of rooms and ownership within a unitary volume, like a large house for 5 families that opens onto the street as if they were one.
Towards the interior of the property, the main bedrooms are separated on both sides, leaving a void between each other that ventilates and illuminates the bathrooms. The glazed floor of this void forms a skylight over the first floor on both walls of the living room. Thus, these semi-detached houses, despite their limited perimeter to the outside, receive natural light from all four sides, like an isolated house.
The San Crescente Housing ensemble was inaugurated in the middle of the pandemic. The large lockdowns forced its new neighbors —who were longtime friends— to live in an immunity bubble. The houses main floor’s became common classrooms and the basement became a multipurpose gym/office/carpentry workshop. The visual connection between the common patio, the houses’ common areas and its private courtyards, transformed the whole main floor onto a continuous communal place. This, instead of suppressing the privacy of its inhabitants, transferred it to the master bedroom in an exacerbated way. In the meantime, the courtyard facing the street hosted frequent conversations with passersby, till ending up becoming an unexpected space for deliberation between the domestic and the public realm.