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ARQ (Santiago)

versão On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.95 Santiago abr. 2017

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962017000100084 

Works & projects

Walnut Tree Pavilion. Talagante, Chile, 2016

Emilio De la Cerda 1   *   , Pedro Correa 2   **  

1Director, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. emiliodelacerda@uc.cl

2Profesor asistente adjunto, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. pcorrea4@gmail.com

Abstract:

Given its nature, an expansion should always take a position on physical preexistences (either friendly, indifferent, defiant, and so on). However, it is not obvious that the design for a house expansion should also take a position on intangible pre-existences (such as discipline, culture, history, and so on). The example shows an attempt to extend not only a house but also the constellation of precedents that the commission follows, even if only in a small autonomy redoubt.

Keywords: house; domesticity; wood; expansion; reference

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 1. 

Given its nature, an expansion should always take a position on physical preexistences (either friendly, indifferent, defiant, and so on). However, it is not obvious that the design for a house expansion should also take a position on intangible pre-existences (such as discipline, culture, history, and so on). The example shows an attempt to extend not only a house but also the constellation of precedents that the commission follows, even if only in a small autonomy redoubt.

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 2. 

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 3. 

The project is the second intervention on an old adobe tenement house located in a field in Talagante, 40 km away from Santiago. The operation involved changing the main entrance, removing all public spaces within the previous volume and redistributing the original enclosures. The new patio and pavilion were organized around an eighteen-meter high walnut tree, under whose shadow all the family's daily life has developed, despite the area being split from the old dwelling's reception spaces.

Figure 4 Giorgio Morandi. Natura Morta, 1952 

Figure 5 Project Image 

Source: (c) Felipe Fontecilla

Figure 6 Alberto Cruz, Juan Purcell, Sala de Música. Ciudad Abierta de Ritoque, Chile, 1972. 

Figura 7 Alison y Peter Smithson, Yellow House (project). First price Shinkenchiku Competition, Japón,1976. 

The house's first expansion - built by the couple themselves fifteen years ago when they only had one child (now they have seven) - was a mimesis operation in which a new, displaced volume extending the roof replicated the country house imaginary. The second intervention - now presented - considers as a significant pre-existence not only the rural house but also its setting, especially this singular tree. Therefore, the operation is nothing like the previous ones nor it is restricted to increasing built surface (as a pragmatic response to new domestic requirements); instead, it tries to modify the house's relational system to amplify its nexus with the garden, and specifically the walnut tree.

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 8. 

The pavilion is built on a square plan with a treated pine structure, and an identical regime of opacity/transparency on three of its facades. The fourth one is attached to a corridor that connects to the original structure, adding interior space and breaking the monotony of the central plan. Based on regular 6 × 6" pillar grid and a system of trusses supported on also 6 × 6" pillars, the plan stipulates homogeneous dimensions that, however, allow for different distributions. The ceiling accentuates empty spaces between trusses, distributes the central skylight's light and replicates the roof plan geometry: eight triangles resulting from the 45º-rotation of two squares. One of the rooms in the new pavilion accommodates a desk and a small library, which were detached from the rest of the common spaces. The patio builds the space in-between, providing a solid ground that allows prolonging the interiors during summer, defining a new access and gathering the group of volumes around the walnut tree, which gives the name to this intervention.

Subordinating the architectural design to the tree's presence reminds of some of Alison and Peter Smithson's projects, such as the Garden Building in Oxford (1967-70) or the un-built Yellow House (1976). The first one, as their own advance on the idea of 'as found'; the latter, as an ideal project that engenders its own constraints and equates built form to green form.

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 9. 

Detaching the new building to define a distance that could work for both a patio access and a north sunlight entrance for the new pavilion had the difficulty of connecting these two autonomous pieces. Louis Kahn's composition strategy as well as his geometric definition of each element, related this modest intervention with architectural topics that were considered relevant to the challenges of this case.

Actions such as the manufacturing of an empty space or the use of a new chromatic palette applied to all volumes, taken from Giorgio Morandi's still life, sought to provide coherence to the complex without resorting to the mimetic maneuvers of previous interventions.

Figure 10 Site Plan. Published scale 1: 5.000 

Figure 11 Section AA. Published scale 1: 250 

Figure 12 South west facade. Published scale 1: 250 

Figure 13 Plan Original House. Published scale 1: 250 

Figure 14. Plan of interventions. Published scale 1: 250 Legend: 1. Access; 2. Living room; 3. Kitchen; 4. Studio; 5. Childrens' bedroom; 6. Bathroom; 7. Multipurpose room; 8. Main bedroom; 9. Service room; 10. Terrace 

Walnut Tree Pavilion

Architects: Emilio De la Cerda Errázuriz, Pedro Correa Fernández

Location: Camino Ochagavía, Talagante, Chile

Clients: Gerardo Alcalde, Carmen Ochagavía

Construction: Óscar Alcaino, Juan Vega

Standing seam metal roof: Orlando Godoy

Structure materials: Pino impregnado 6×6" / Treated 6×6" pine structure

Finishings: Standing seam zinc, PVC thermal panel windows, engineering floor, pine boards, steel, concrete tile.

Budget: US$ 385 / m²

Existent built surface: 145 m²

New built surface: 80 m²

Site surface: 3.000 m²

Project year: 2013

Construction year: 2014-2016

Photographs: Stephannie Fell

(c) Stephannie Fell

Figure 15. 

Designing distances

Fernando Carvajal. Arquitecto U Central, Chile. Magíster en Arquitectura, UC, Chile. Candidato a Doctor UC, Chile.

Defining the expansion of an old country house as a 'pavilion' allows architects to take refuge in a rather permissive realm within the discipline, freeing themselves from mere programmatic resolution typical in these kind of commissions so as to explore pure architectural operations and articulate, within a limited space, a wide range of references - the Smithsons, Kahn, ucv, among others - admitting with it the survival of architectural subjects. The pavilion thus becomes a redoubt.

However, being safeguarded under the 'paveilum' imaginary is not free from debts, as it entails the need to 'design distances' that enable the required independence. The first one corresponds to the central patio that separates the old from the new, the volumes thus linked through a processional corridor configuring the new main access. The second is the pavilion itself and its austere wooden box, which has symmetrical facades regardless of their orientation; the blue shade selected for the opaque elements - in contrast to the dark brown of the pre-existing ones - reinforces the detachment. The third one is designed vertically, as the volume is placed on 27 quarry stones that secure the pavilion (with metal studs passing through), raising it 2 inches from the rough concrete foundations. The last distance is originated at the heart of the plan, where a square drawn in the wooden floor rotates 45 degrees with respect to the general plan, while pillars in the four corners build a structural slab on which the trusses rest. The free open plan turns thus opposite to the fixed, closed structure of the existing house.

Finally, the walnut tree on the west not only stands out for its key role and its ability to rearticulate the whole, outlining the patio while defining the entrance - which is already a lot - but also, for its fulfillment of the entrusted task: to soothe the distance between the old house and the new pavilion.

* Emilio De la Cerda Architect, Magíster in Architecture, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2006. Partner in OWAR Arquitectos, between 2005 and 2016. He served as Executive Secretary for the Chilean National Monuments Council between 2011 and 2014. Currenly he is Assistant Professor and Director at the School of Architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

** Pedro Correa Architect, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2012. MSc. Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices GSAPP, Columbia University, 2016. He is Adjunt Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

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