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Volcanic panache: Ampuero Yutronic, UK & Chile

Ampuero Yutronic’s black-stained Casa Hualle in Pucón, Chile, is evocative of both the volcanic stone-clad houses and the agricultural sheds of the region

Ampuero Yutronic has been shortlisted for the AR Emerging Architecture awards 2018

In the rural foothills of Villarrica volcano, between gentle slopes and coarse grasses, rises a monolith. Jutting out, stark against the earth and brush, this shining black box with its faceted roof and scattered windows looks like a landing of astro-volcanic rock, born of both the Chilean landscape and another world altogether. 

Casa Hualle is a family home designed by Javier Ampuero and Catalina Yutronic, two Chilean architects now based in London. They define their approach as ultimately invested in creating individual sensory connections, focusing on materials that are ‘pure and tactile’ to curate intimate experiences of their architecture.

Mg 8060 4.5

Casa Hualle by Ampuero Yutronic

The cladding that effects such an eruptive influence on the landscape, with its dark stain and vertical slats, refers both to the region’s volcanic stone and its agricultural sheds – this latter reference is articulated with precision on the north-eastern facade, where a single, second-storey window interrupts an otherwise sheer gable wall. 

By contrast, the pale plywood of the interior finishes gleams against exposed concrete floors, blackened by an aggregate of volcanic sand and polished to a sheen. The apparently random windows are, in fact, placed with intention, framing particular views of the impressive surrounding landscape. The minimal furnishing was designed specifically to serve Casa Hualle: seats and tables were built locally from solid timber and using local craftsmanship, the furniture bringing a warm reddish hue to the otherwise monochromatic palette. 

Ampuero yutronic drawings

Ampuero yutronic drawings

Click to download

Between the spatial coordination of Ampuero Yutronic’s picturesque planes and the delicacy with which their furniture joins its surroundings, the house showcases the practice’s holistic approach to design: ‘our aim is to give a thoughtful view on the relationship between architecture, interior, furniture and product design to create projects with delicate transitions between disciplines’. Placing an emphasis on local craftsmanship, the pair also speak proudly of their collaboration with engineers, builders and carpenters in Chile. Though the distance might intensify the logistical complexity of working collectively, their dual presence is culturally advantageous – it gives them a stage in Chile’s burgeoning creative scene, while maintaining a presence in London’s architectural establishment. 

Ay andes serie assembly diagram edit

Ay andes serie assembly diagram edit

Ay andes serie 15

Casa Hualle furniture by Ampuero Yutronic

Source: Courtesy of the architect

Optimistic about the challenge of adapting to the uncertain landscape of architecture in post-Brexit Britain, they also express excitement about the opportunities provided by rapid development in Chile. They explain that 30 years on from Chile’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy, the country has largely recovered. With extensive investments in infrastructure, renewable energy and construction, the ‘cultural blackout’ of the previous era has been replaced by a creative culture in serious growth. 

Looking to the future, Ampuero and Yutronic are focused on possibilities for creative expression, and for positive social and environmental impact, but this does not represent a change in scale. When asked about their ideal project, they say: ‘we do not feel the desire to work with seemingly infinite budgets to create “grand projects” – rather something that directly contributes to people’s lives’.

Architect: Ampuero Yutronic

Photographs: Felipe Fontecilla, unless otherwise stated

This piece is featured in AR November issue on Emerging Architecture and the Netherlands – click here to purchase your copy today

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