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2016 MCHAP.emerge

Aguas Claras House

Eduardo Castillo

Florida, Chile

January 2014


Eduardo Castillo. Arquitectos


Maria Francisca Navarro (Collaborator)


Juan Castillo & Elena Ramírez


Estudio Palma


This country house has been projected like sheds and storage silos on the idea of an efficient production to build infrastructures. Where it’s way of construction will remain in its final appearance. The Construction based on a single cross section, that means the entire house in one time, allows to keep a symmetry depending on its manufacture. 32 rigid frames elaborated in wood of 3.20 meters (taking its full length), and linked every 75 centimeters. The whole stick skeleton is supported by 4 main beams that run below the whole house and come out in a series of wood beams every 150 centimeters. 6 diagonals in vertical studding, plus the ceiling and floor boarding its whole length, make the house resistant to eventual Seismic movements that affect our country. The eaves in both sides and along its length, sieve the shade permanently thrown into the house, allowing that the gallery, which surrounds and wraps the interior of the house, generates a moderated lighting in all the room. The Mediterranean rooms, with regard to its perimeter, remain re-planned under an agreeable semidarkness, and are coated by a wood boarding that turns in the same direction. From floor to ceiling it generates a pipe that is illuminated from a window, located in the ceiling, where its accessibility is for both way of the created pipe.


Bruce Chatwin, reminds us, in one of his celebrated books, that the Japanese have a word “Wabi” which means “poverty” or, more precisely, “voluntary poverty” in the sense that Zen recognizes the “lack of possessions” as a way to own the world. Both in China and Japan, the ascetics seek a “poverty” derived from the teachings of Buddha. A man weighed down by his belongings, said Buddha, is like a ship that makes water: its only chance at saving itself is to throw away its cargo. To rest on an elemental architecture that is at the same time extremely material, implies that something in the material survives the thought. In this way, I am inclined to prefer the density of mass, where the material remains incorporated not just as a structural collaborator for physical loads, but rather also for a variety of possible readings in the final product. This precipitation in the modeled materiality, goes after a settling in the discipline; which explores the technique’s natural disposition toward reduction and simplification of constructive acts, putting the structure into play, not as a aesthetic-constructive apparatus, but rather as in the sculptures of Martin Puryear and Tony Cragg: “a skeleton submerged in its material density”, allowing nothing to be resolved with maximum precision, but rather executed with the amount adequate for its own constructive logic. Maybe it is for this reason that we find so much beauty in pottery or an artisan’s weaving, “because it has been made with all the cultural care inscribed in its memory”.


Pablo Neruda, in his 1935 manifesto “Regarding Poetry without Purity”, highlighted the importance of “deeply observing resting objects” in order to perceive in them “the confused impurity of human beings (…), the footprints and fingerprints, the constancy of a human atmosphere overrun with things, from the inside and the outside”. Let’s imagine in Chile’s Central Valley, an unprepared field, country folk clearing it of rocks –while the fresh dawn dissolves in their noses-. After having prepared the land, they take those rocks, prepare a mortar of mud and straw and upon a single borderline, construct a “drywall”- silent, monotonous, and with the permanent objective of usefulness, its only goal being to create the borders around that which is being cared for. Maybe, this drywall is the best example of “an architecture that receives what’s available as if it were a gift, without bemoaning that which is missing, but rather finding the opportunities that come hidden within the problems”. I remember some of Anthony Caro’s sculptures that physically and conceptually contain everything I am attempting to name: buildings which are the fruit of an elemental culture, where the pieces are put together as they are asked for, as much to maintain the material weakness as to “make clear the dignity of human life, even in under its worst conditions”. Delicately improvised constructions, whose make shift repairs are able to detain the weight which buries them in their misery. Without a doubt, that state of flagellation makes their beautiful present shine.

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