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2014 MCHAP.emerge

Gago House

Pezo von Ellricshausen

San Pedro la Paz, Chile

June 2013


Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen


Diogo Porto (Architect)


Gabriel Gatica


Cristobal Palma


The house has a square floor plan divided into asymmetrical quadrants that spiral up to a height of four stories. Four steps (which add 70 cm in height) separate one quadrant from the next. Installed at the intersection of the habitable walls that divide the interior is a spiral staircase with a central stairwell, regular steps and no landings. To move between one enclosed space and the next there are two routes: the stairs, which function as a diagonal shortcut that intersects the corners, and another gentler one that connects the centers of each enclosed space. In total there are twelve platforms at different levels, in which a rotation of 360 degrees is equivalent to a whole floor. Except for the base, which contains the earth of the back garden, this wooden house is supported on the central staircase, a robust entity of folded slabs and four reinforced concrete columns that rise through the entire height of the volume. At its base, the center of the staircase coincides with the diagonal entrance to the house. The massive presence of this composite, disproportionate column is contained by an almost provisional scaffolding of beams and columns of treated wood faced with paneling on both sides. The outer façade is lined with a ventilated sheet of boards and lightly framed glass panels.


The house is located in what might be considered a generic form of suburban development. The site is one of the many that has been recently drawn in response to a fast and intense exodus from the centralized metropolitan capital. Lacking of natural attributes other than the remaining topography and the open view to the historical Bio-Bio river, the plot is confined by little houses that deny their own nature, in other words, their own confinement within a place encoded by invisible, yet explicit, social common places and regulations. Given this somehow flat context, perhaps the very milieu of this house could be found in the abstract and discrete desires of its inhabitants: both working, in silence, with numbers and equations that most of us are not able to understand.


The house is structured by an ascending sequence that establishes varying degrees of intimacy and proximity between the different domestic functions, which extend from the kitchen or a couple of dining rooms at the ground level to the bedrooms or the study in the top part of the house. This stratification leads to the activation of certain rooms according to the time of day and a sort of family interaction throughout the staircase central void. Together with this inner logic, the presence of the exterior landscape (and the immediate surroundings) are punctually filtered to the inside. In the opposite direction, the façade remains as mute and discrete as it can, as a sort of mask that veils its own domesticity.

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