Thursday, November 11, 2010

Case study no.1 Quincha Metàlica, house no.1

As I am starting to write this post, I am realising how much information I still need to find out about my case studies! This house was built sometime in the last 10 years...hmmm...It has been constructed using the Quincha metàlica, a method pioneered by Marcelo Cortès. The original method is very similar to wattle and daub and uses timber or straw lattice, onto which daub (earth) is applied. This method has existed for centuries all over the world, including in South America. Quincha metàlica is an alternative whereby a metal lath is used instead of the wattle. In my interview with Cortès he stated that the main reason for using this method is that it is anti-seismic, and in a country like Chile that experiences earthquakes frequently, this is very important. The second reason is cost and efficiency. However in areas where wood has been abundant and available, he has chosen to build using wood instead. The metal also makes it possible to play around with building forms. Though I don`t think this should be the ultimate reason for using the metal, I do think it is bringing earth architecture into the 21st century as a modern building method and as a really strong alternative to concrete, which can only be a good thing. Marcelo is very passionate about this method and he insists that only by building in a way that uses local materials, local skills, respecting the landscape, and most importantly considering the history of the area can you achieve a successful building. My hero.

Onto the house itself, my first thoughts were about how despite it`s modern appearance, it retains a Chilean quality. Especially in the interior. The markings on the floor are details I have seen in Peñalolen houses built when the community was first starting in the 80`s. The use of wood indicates the spanish influence. Even the earth tones and the metal ironmongery, the balconies hint at spanish style. The owners clearly live a very modern lifestyle but they have a reed bed system in their garden which indicates an awareness of sustainability. And despite the modern nature of the building, the interior is very comfortable. I could easily imagine living there. It was not even slightly pretentious. I particularly liked the area on the roof that you could access by rearranging some bookshelves in the office upstairs. This gave the possibility of feeling like the captain of your house, as the owner put it.

The living space, this faces north so is good for passive solar

The balconies

View from the kitchen

View of the approach

beautiful and simple staircase

Floor details reminiscent of original Peñalolen architecture by Kim,JoaquimCordua

The view from the captain`s nest

Way back into the first floor office

Peeping over the other buildings

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