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2016 MCHAP.emerge


House CS

Alvaro Arancibia + Sebastian Coll

Cachagua, Chile

March 2015


Sebastian Coll Alvaro Arancibia


Alvaro Arancibia + Sebastian Coll (Founder Architects)


Fernando Coll Celsi


Alvaro Arancibia


The design strategy was to rise the house above the surrounding dwellings and maximize the built area at that level. The main reason was to create views and reduce the costs of the foundations, which is a very expensive item on sloping land. This decision led to create two volumes, where the upper is the hierarchical and public area whereas the lower accommodates the private program. Due to budgetary limitations, the design considered the use of a range of construction materials. The strategy was to use rough and cheap construction systems such as concrete and brick for the core structure and then start dressing the house with finer elements such as glass, timber and steel that could give lightness to the house. These are used in many ways in the upper story, becoming the flooring, ceiling, staircases, and ventilated cladding, among others. To do this, the main technical problem was to strategically combine different construction systems - consisting of reinforced concrete, expanded polystyrene brick, steel and timber - within a single and coherent design. More specifically, the biggest technical challenge was the steel structure on the upper floor. This, due to it mediates between the reinforced concrete slab and the timber composite beams. The latter had to be especially designed in order to hide as much as possible all the steel encounters and screws, finally resulting in a clean and elegant technical solution for an eight meters long beam that thickens inwards and tapers to the outside.


This is a weekend house located on the central coast of Chile, 160 kilometers away from Santiago. The brief was to design a family house that could fit up to 12 people within a hilly site. Here, the long views to the pacific sea and mountainous landscape are only possible in the highest point of the plot. This is due to the house is completely surrounded by other houses, which complicates having long views. In addition to this, the site has environmental constraints in terms of sunlight - the plot faces south - and morning and evening drizzles that are typical for the area, being a constant condition throughout the whole year.


Due to the house faces south, the main floor follows a sloping roof that on the one hand brings light from north and protects the public area from the sunset and on the other hand protects the house from drizzle, which is typical during mornings and evenings in the Chilean central coast. Beside it, a lower height volume faces the street, concentrating the kitchen and main services, which are treated with a system of sliding shutters that control the privacy and views from the exterior. This volume towards the street does not only work as a buffer zone between exterior and interior but also as a scalar element that conceals the overall size of the house (350 m2). This way, the house reduces its visual impact in its surrounding landscape and sets an urban principle for the harmonious coexistence of houses in the area. In addition to this, the house connects with the street through a bridge. This creates a terrace that allows crossed ventilation and brings plenty of natural light from to the ground level program. Finally, in terms of the house use, the arrangement of the master bedroom in the upper floor allows the owners (a couple) to use the building as a 1 bedroom house when they go alone. They can still enjoy the main features of the house, which makes it very efficient in terms of the heating and maintenance.

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