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South American architecture has a dual soul: a highly extroverted spirit that encourages the house to open up to the landscape, and a closed, intimate spirit to meet the need for security in places with a high crime rate. The three architects of BAK arquitectos have transformed these limitations into an opportunity to design a contemporary home. Their starting point was the local climate, on a lot overlooking the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), the presence of which ensures long-term protection of the landscape.
Mediation between integration of the built and natural landscapes and defence of privacy drove BAK to design what might be called an archetype of the upper-class South American home: a building on a single level, with two parallel rough cement walls, in accordance with the vocabulary beloved of and made popular by an architectural élite, to create a protected space that opens up the view of the outdoors thanks to the other two free façades, which are made of glass or partially screened by a façade with quebracho wood sunshades.
Beyond this lie the garden and swimming pool, with a rectangular shape at right angles to the home, forming an orderly layout containing a wealth of contrasts. The interior, divided up by two cement walls parallel to the outside walls, is given rhythm by a grid, in part defined and in part merely imagined, of 12 spaces measuring 4 x 3.5 metres, in which the family’s domestic life is rationally organised: a central living area, with two bedrooms and bathrooms to the west, by the entrance, and a large kitchen to the east, with a door opening directly onto the garden, a common feature in South American homes. The only elements screening the landscape along the main north-south axis are those bounding the two internal gardens, a patio covered with earth on which tropical plants grow and a pond, occupying 2 of the 12 modules that form the layout: two light stacks in the centre of the living area breaking up the main central axis to create smaller, more flexible spaces.
Thanks to orientation and composition and to the presence of greenery, the architecture solves the need for lighting and generates natural ventilation making it energy self-sufficient in summer, with underfloor heating in winter. The walls are covered with MDL panels with Guatambù wood veneer only where there are glass walls, to improve thermal insulation. The roof, floor panels and walls are made of rough cement, in line with the tendency toward the brutalist aesthetic so common in South American architecture.
Design: Maria Victoria Besonias, Guillermo de Almeida, Luciano Kruk (BAK arquitectos)
Client: Architects Besonías and Almeida
Location: Villa Udaondo, Ituzaingó, Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Total useable floor space: 167 m2
Lot size: 419 m2
Project start date: 2009
Completion of work: 2010
Main façade made of quebracho wood
Bronze-coloured aluminium window frames
Cement floor slabs
Photographs: © Gustavo Sosa Pinilla