[COMMENDATION AR HOUSE 2010] A bold, formally adventurous, concrete shell conceals a polished interior realm. Photography by Gustavo Frittegotto
This chamfered concrete structure on the rolling plains near Rosario is perhaps the most formally adventurous of all the winning schemes. Its design was underscored by the need to connect the interior with views of the landscape, while preserving a degree of privacy from neighbours.
The house occupies a pivotal corner site. These contradictory aspects are resolved by a compact massing strategy with a minimal footprint which liberates and preserves the ground and defines a two-storey structure. The curved and chamfered form does not conform to the conventions of front, side, and rear, so the facade continuously modulates the relationship of interior to exterior and the perception of the house unfolds through a sequence of oblique views where every part of the facade becomes a primary element.
The house’s formal and tectonic complexity was generated by subtracting four geometric volumes from a basic ‘primitive’ mass. These precisely articulated cuts and excavations shape a dynamic external form ‘perceived simultaneously as embedded and lofted, cantilevered and slumped’, say the architects, a collaboration between American firm Johnston Marklee and Argentinian Diego Arraigada.
From inside, the concrete shell defines a modulated space that spirals upwards in an interlocking sequence of living areas. The building’s complex geometry defines the range of volumes, adding to the richness of the interior landscape. In some ways, the house resembles an oyster. The rough concrete carapace is the hard, hermetic outer shell, concealing a polished, luminous internal realm. The project has a boldness of conception and execution, and the jury admired the obvious invention that had gone into its making.
Architect Johnston Marklee, Los Angeles, USA; Diego Arraigada, Rosario, Argentina
Structural engineer Gonzalo Garibay