Center for Art + Environment Blog

May 24, 2011   |   William L. Fox

Travels in Chile — Part 3 of 4

Travels in Chile

Casa Larrain by architect Cecilia Puga. Photo by Bill Fox

Casa Larrain by architect Cecilia Puga. Photo by Bill Fox

Casa Larrain by architect Cecilia Puga. Photo by Bill Fox

On our last day in Chile, David Walker, the architect Cecilia Puga, and I – along with our host, artist Josefina Guilisasti (http://www.josefinaguilisasti.cl/biography/), drove two hours north of Santiago to Bahía Azul (http://coolboom.net/architecture/bahia-azul-house-by-cecilia-puga/), a small collection of houses perched above the rocky coastline. Cecilia has designed one of the most remarkable residencies that can be seen anywhere, a family retreat named “Casa Larrain.” The house, consisting of three sheds, is constructed out of concrete. Although a relatively expensive material to use initially, over time its cost is justified by how well it withstands the fierce storms and salt air from the ocean.

The great trick of the house is that the central third of its three shed shapes is nestled upside down between the other two, a pun on the weight of the material, but also a cost-effective and handsome solution to using repeated forms in an unexpected way. Indeed, what could have had the heavy-footed appearance of a coastal defense bunker is instead a structure that opens itself to the light and air.

Kitchen at Casa Larrain with the coast of Chile below the house. Photo by Bill Fox

Kitchen at Casa Larrain with the coast of Chile below the house. Photo by Bill Fox