The house is built in a rural urbanization in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, surrounded by polo clubs and longstanding woods. Rows of willow trees cut through the terrain’s flat topography. The commission was made by a young couple with no children, wanting to build their permanent residence. They asked for a house with a pure external image and an uncomplicated inner distribution.
Building Program and Future Expansions
A single floor needed to accommodate a master suite and a second bedroom with a shared bathroom, as well as an integrated social area. The clients wanted a spacious gallery that would allow them to be in close touch with nature, as well as a swimming pool and a patio. They also requested a study for a future enlargement, in view of the possibility to include a third bedroom.
The house was designed as a pure volume. Considering the regulatory restrictions and keeping in mind a future expansion, the built area covered the lot’s whole width. A concrete platform allows one to walk over a reflecting pool and reach a semi-covered reception hall. Upon entering, a leafy inner patio behind a glass panel is immediately visible. This patio arouses the senses, expanding the views towards the back of the lot.
The path connecting the entrance, the patio and the pool in the backyard crosses the main interior circulation, which leads to the organization of the house along two axes. Facing north, the main areas open towards the exterior space through the gallery, whereas aligned service areas become part of the façade and the inner patio establishes a border between the private and social areas of the house.
Façade Design with a Wooden Latticework
The main facade’s most noticeable characteristic is its system of lapacho wooden planks, hanging vertically along the entire front. Behind this latticework, short hanging walls in combination with translucent glass, configure the inner skin of the wet spaces. The plank system harmonizes these openings and closures by creating a rhythm and organization that allows for outward gazes without being seen from the street. As these planks remain at a distance from the floor, a short black flagstone wall rises; its darkness gives the impression of a recess, which in turn makes the planks stand out from the wall, so the entire structure appears to be floating. The facade itself was intended to appear hovering above the water.
Concrete and Glazing create Opacity and Openness
Unlike the front skin, the back of the house is completely clad in transparent glass. The openness with which its joinery is designed from floor to ceiling allows for complete integration between the inside and the outside. The semicovered gallery serves as a transitional space towards the backyard and shelters the inside from direct sunlight.
The side shell is made of almost blind partitions, standing on the floor. Contrary to the other two systems, the sides of the house demonstrate the connection between the volume of the house and the terrain. The side adjacent to the street employs one of the tools used in the facade system: With the intention to allow some light to enter the house and to provide some views from the street into the social area, a series of vertical wooden planks float over the glazed pane. This way, considering the connection of this area with the inner patio, the unified living and dining rooms are sunlit and open on three sides. On the other hand, the opposite side of the house is opaque: a concrete wall and glazed panes cover the most intimate parts of the house.
Lighting equipment intensifies the building’s horizontality. Inside, two sets of rails hang from the ceiling from side to side, both on the front and at the back. Also, a row of built-in lights is set along the gallery’s ceiling and floor.
Concrete Loadbearing System
The structure of the house employs a concrete loadbearing wall system that interacts with inverted T-beams, which sustain the loads and hide the system from view. The rooftop is a traditional flat roof system, including a light sloped base-floor over the slabs, concrete bed and membrane. Inside, the exposed slabs function as ceilings.
The bare concrete surfaces reflect their handcrafted formwork: The walls feature horizontal pine boards, but the places where the phenolic plates touched each other on the ceiling also remain visible. The clients asked for the inner walls of the private side of the house be white, so these were built with plastered bricks. The austere exposed concrete prescribes the building’s ageing process. Furthermore, the selection of materials integrates the house with its rural environment. The simplicity of the functional organization, perceivable on the floor plan, is reflected in its containing morphology: a big tunnel, made of mainly horizontal edges.