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2014 MCHAP.emerge

Poli House

Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Tome, Chile

February 2005


Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen


Eduardo Meissner (Artist)


Centro Cultural Casapoli


Cristobal Palma


The cubic figure of the house has two stories organized in a square floor plan divided by an asymmetrical cross. The first floor has various levels that adapt to the topography. In the lower one there is a triple height room that works as a pivoting vertical space, as a kind of void that captures the sense of vertigo and exposure to the cliff. The massive perimeter is somehow emptied by a rather continuous and fluid interior, with openings cardinally positioned in opposite sides of the volume. Despite the evident obstruction of the geometrical abstract piece in nature, and despite the undefined material transparency between the concrete and the granite of the surroundings, there is an intended sense of rest and gravity incarnated in the constructed place. The work was done, with a small mixer and four wheelbarrows, in horizontal stratums that matched the height of half a wooden board. All the work was built with hand-made concrete, using untreated wooden formwork. The same rough and battered wood of the formwork were recycled to wrap the interior and to build sliding panels that function both as doors to hide the services of the perimeter and as shutters that cover the windows when the house is left alone.


The project occupies an extreme position on top of a cliff, facing the Pacific Ocean. Although this natural setting might be read as not far from the reality of the raw dream, the urban limits (and its private and divisional logic) have unavoidably reached the fragility of the landscape. As a manifest form of opposition, the generous site of the project has been left untouched and with an open access. Then, a compact and autonomous piece as been built in order to capture at least two things: both the sensation of a natural podium surrounded by the vastness of the panorama and the somewhat morbid sight of the foot of the cliffs, where the weaves clash on the rocks.


Since the building functions both as artist residence and cultural center, there is a contradictory requirement: the interior would have to mediate between a very public aspect and a very intimate and informal one. That is, it had to be both monumental and domestic without any of the negative aspects of either one affecting the other. Therefore, the rooms have been left nameless and functionless; just as empty rooms with varying degrees of connection between them. To support this informal interior, all the service functions have been arranged in an over-dimensioned perimeter (a functional width), inside a thick wall that works as a buffer. This double wall is a hollowed, emptied mass that contains the kitchen, the vertical circulations, the bathrooms, the closets and a series of interior balconies. If necessary, all the furniture and domestic objects can be stored inside this perimeter, freeing the space for multiple activities. Poli not only refers to this functional multiplicity but to a more extended, and certainly classical, notion of urbanity.

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