title agua leon
location millaillipen, puesco, currarehue, ix region, chile
team pol taylor
data tor.shell_180m2 / 7m high / 9m wide / 20m deep
materials native rauli timber, ferrari membrane, bent steel plates, double glazing, polyester insulation.
context >> the agua leon house is an experiment in the design of a recreational living space. it is situated at 800m of altitude in puesco at the end of the trancura gorge. the 50 hectare site is called parque las peinetas, and has been divided into thirty half hectare lots, each being circular with a radius of 40m and a minimum separation of 5m from its nearest neighbor, ensuring that the forest remains permeable and collective. agua leon is located next to a stream and is currently a vacation home for the architect.
the residential spaces are developed within an oversized tor.shell of 200m2 made from native rauli sustainably harvested from the surrounding forest. the connecting plates and the membrane are prefabricated while the timber is almost entirely elaborated on site, eliminating most transportation issues. a horizontal platform was excavated from the hillside, with a stone containing wall at the back, and the shell was aligned with the contour lines to minimize excavation. the tor.shell installation took four people just three days, and all subsequent work was protected from the persistent rain that is characteristic outside the summer months, allowing work to advance rapidly.
the oversized shell allows a double height patio to be established that is protected from the wind and the rain, and naturally cross-ventilated in summer, providing a perfectly conditioned space immersed in its natural context where daily life can take place. the interiors are organized in two double storey elements symmetrically arranged around the patio. the nodes of the shell are projected vertically downwards with timber pillars which define a segmented rotational geometry with baroque accents. this allows flat timber stud panels to be introduced between the vertical pillars. glazing is then introduced in horizontal bands that reunite the panels with sweeping vistas over the valley and the quintilil summit to the west. programmatically, the ground floor is distributed between a expansive kitchen and a living-dining room, with sliding doors communicating them across the central patio. both interiors have the potential to connect to their own smaller patios at either end of the shell, and these spaces can be conditioned using the timber beams to support membrane or polycarbonate panels depending on the use to be given to them.
the panels of the ground floor interiors are all vertical and stepped back from the shell structure, leaving a series of covered passages that connect the patios. on the second floor the logic is different, with the interior surface of the shell forming the ceilings of the three bedrooms, akin to a polygonized roof space or loft that is cosy and accommodating. the shell panels that coincide with interiors have insulation blankets and an interior surface of rauli planks. the exterior patio spaces in contrast, are only protected by the membrane, whose luminous chromatic surfaces establish their abstract character. the bedrooms look at each other across the patio void, and out and down through the windows at each extreme. the central rhomboid of the shell is transparent, covered with two polycarbonate surfaces that establish relationships with the trees and mountain peaks overhead, and at night the moonlight floods through.
the interiors of the shell have been designed as cellular spaces with relatively low ceilings to allow them to be effectively heated in winter and on rainy days. the house has been inhabited with snow falling and with heat sources in the living room and kitchen the entire house is perfectly conditioned. the double height patio in contrast allows for the enjoyment of different architectural qualities without compromising the effectiveness of the heating strategy and is currently taken advantage of during the summer when the cross ventilation establishes a perfectly cooled environment. if winter habitation of the shell becomes more pronounced there is a project to seasonally clad the patio with polycarbonate and produce an effective greenhouse at the heart of the shell from which the pre-heated air can then be entered into the interiors.