Young Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Guna House is an emanation of its previous project, Solo Pezo, completed in Cretas, Spain in 2013. The Solo Houses programme begun in 2009 saw important architects from all over the world working on refined home designs without a specific client, with the aim of launching new proposals for living. The year after the Solo Pezo project began, Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen began work on the Guna House, on a strip of land sloping down to the lagoon of Llacolen in San Pedro de la Paz, Chile. This time they did have a client, the man who built the home. The idea of creating a contemporary version of the courtyard home was applied in a truly functional situation in which the client wanted to live in a construction resting on a steep hill sloping down to the water, surrounded by eucalyptus trees.
As in all of Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s works, relationship with context is a key theme, not in its specific features but as a day-to-day presence. The Guna House, like Solo Pezo, is an extroverted belvedere, with four sides of its regular prism facing nature, but introverted when the tall glass doors of the main floor open onto courtyard. Like Venetian homes on the water, also the Guna House has a main floor for contemplation of the lagoon, but is by no means a gilded refuge in which the landscape is a background: it stands out in contrast with its surroundings, in a renewed diatribe between the natural and the artificial.
In this construction solution the main floor, with a square layout measuring 20 metres on each side, rests on a smaller base, only 8.5 metres per side, in the middle. The layout of this base corresponds to that of the central courtyard on the upper floor, so that the main floor is built entirely overhanging empty space, jutting out by almost 6 metres on all sides. All the living and bedroom areas are arranged around this square ring, as in Solo Pezo. In Spain the architects had experimented with the bold solution of a ring around the outside containing both the living areas and the corridor for moving around them; a hypothesis that inspired us to describe the home as an experiment challenging the very concept of indoor space in architecture. In the Guna House, the need for more screened spaces leads to the addition of a corridor between the inner courtyard and the outdoor spaces, so that each room is more closed in on itself. There is still a relationship between inside and outside and between different spaces inside the home, with a multitude of doors and windows adding to the curiosity of the vision that the entire inventive layout of the home subtends. Square modules such as the bedrooms and the whole level act as skylights on the roof and floor of the main floor, letting in the light that joins the two levels.
The concrete base of the whole structure, which contains the utility areas, also serves as an outdoor staircase for reaching the upper level. High concrete steps alternate with the staircase rising to courtyard level: at a key node in the circulation there is a place to stop and contemplate the view of the water from a higher level.
Design: Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen)
Project team: Diogo Porto, Joao Quintela, Lena Johansen, Cecilia Madero
Client: Pablo Vasquez, Maria Paz Calderon
Location: Llacolen, San Pedro de la Paz (Cile)
Structural design: Luis Mendieta
Built surface: 410 sqm
Lot size: 3063 sqm
Project start: 2010
Completion of work: 2014
Metal window frames
Bare concrete walls with sliding glass doors
Concrete frame painted black
Ceiling covered with painted wooden boards
Photos: © Pezo von Ellrichshausen