Pezo Von Ellrichshausen Architects

Arco House . Concepción

Pezo Von Ellrichshausen Architects . photos: © Cristóbal Palma . + dezeen

The decisions taken in the design of this house were the reaction to an accident. It was created for an artist couple: he works with paper, engravings and digital publishing; she with enamelled ceramic.

They had previously been living together in a big old house on the side of a hill, but this was destroyed during the earthquake that devastated central Chile in 2010. Resistance is not only opposition to a force, but also tolerance, patience, being strong-willed. For things to last, for them to withstand the weight of time, they must suffer. The question was to what extent this tension should be made visible.
The house is a vertical structure with a small rectangular (1:2) floor plan. An almost blind plinth of concrete sealed with asphalt is used to embed the house into the natural terrain. From this plinth emerge six steel 250 × 250 × 8 mm columns; the beams scarcely alter in thickness from one floor to the next. This rigid-frame structure defines six equal rooms. To this we simply added a compact piece of furniture which serves as a support for the units and the services. At the centre of gravity of the floor, the crossbeams are duplicated in order to create a vertical circulation in which the 45º intersecting nodes are bracing squares and double-landing steps. The steel components have been fireproofed and brightly enamelled with a coarse grain.
Too thick to be of steel, too thin to be of concrete, the black structure frame seems awkward when we consider the size of the volume it supports, so that between the frames, curtains and reflections this monolithic and generic new prism acquires a serene presence – perhaps with something of that ‘gentle unity’ that Georg Simmel described ruins as having.

Location: Concepcion, Chile
Architects: Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen
Collaborators: Bernhard Maurer, Diogo Porto, Joao Lopes, Antonio Conroy, Eleonora Bassi, Lena Johansen, Julliana Valle, Tim Simon
Client: Barbara Bravo, Claudio Romo
Builder: Ricardo Ballesta
Structure: German Aguilera
Building services: Marcelo Valenzuela, Jaime Tatter
Plot surface: 450 m2
Built surface: 124 m2
Design year: 2010
Construction years: 2010-2011
Photography: Cristobal Palma

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