Casa Arco by
Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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This earthquake-proof house on a hillside in western Chile by architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen has six rooms with glass walls (+ photos by Cristobal Palma).

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen were asked to design the house for a pair of artists whose former home had been destroyed during the major earthquake of 2010, so the architects decided to create a building with a strong structure that could withstand another disaster.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

"For things to last, for them to withstand the weight of time, they must suffer. The question was to what extent this tension should be made visible," they explain.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

They gave the building an exposed steel skeleton, which frames the glass rooms on the three upper floors as well as two ceramics workshops on the lower ground floor.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

These powder-coated black columns and beams create a chunky grid across each elevation, contrasting with the translucent white curtains that hang behind the glazing.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

"There is a feeling of serenity and tension in the whole building," Pezo told Dezeen. "Despite its unstable degree of transparency, it is a monolithic and bold structure."

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

"But there is something uncomfortable about the dimensions of the elements of that structure," he added. "Considering the small volume of the house, [the structural members] seem too thick to be steel and too slender to be concrete. Perhaps this building is no more than a piece of infrastructure."

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The staircase splits the house across the middle and connects the living rooms on the upper ground floor with drawing studios on the first floor and the bedroom and bathroom on the second floor.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Crossbeams either side of the staircase provide extra structural support and create the framework for built-in furniture.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Other projects we've featured in Chile include a library filled with daylight and a spa in a herb garden.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

See all our stories about Chile »

Photography is by Cristobal Palma. See all our stories featuring Cristobal Palma's photos.

Here's some information from the architects:


Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Arco House, Concepcion, 2010-2011

The decisions taken in the design of this house were the reaction to an accident. It was created for an artist couple: he works with paper, engravings and digital publishing; she with enamelled ceramic. They had previously been living together in a big old house on the side of a hill, but this was destroyed during the earthquake that devastated central Chile in 2010. Resistance is not only opposition to a force, but also tolerance, patience, being strong-willed. For things to last, for them to withstand the weight of time, they must suffer. The question was to what extent this tension should be made visible.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The house is a vertical structure with a small rectangular (1:2) floor plan. An almost blind plinth of concrete sealed with asphalt is used to embed the house into the natural terrain. From this plinth emerge six steel 250 × 250 × 8 mm columns; the beams scarcely alter in thickness from one floor to the next. This rigid-frame structure defines six equal rooms. To this we simply added a compact piece of furniture which serves as a support for the units and the services. At the centre of gravity of the floor, the crossbeams are duplicated in order to create a vertical circulation in which the 45º intersecting nodes are bracing squares and double-landing steps. The steel components have been fireproofed and brightly enamelled with a coarse grain.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Too thick to be of steel, too thin to be of concrete, the black structure frame seems awkward when we consider the size of the volume it supports, so that between the frames, curtains and reflections this monolithic and generic new prism acquires a serene presence - perhaps with something of that 'gentle unity' that Georg Simmel described ruins as having.

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: site plan - click above for larger image

Location: Concepcion, Chile
Architects: Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen
Collaborators: Bernhard Maurer, Diogo Porto, Joao Lopes, Antonio Conroy, Eleonora Bassi, Lena Johansen, Julliana Valle, Tim Simon
Client: Barbara Bravo, Claudio Romo
Builder: Ricardo Ballesta
Structure: German Aguilera
Building services: Marcelo Valenzuela, Jaime Tatter
Plot surface: 450 m2
Built surface: 124 m2
Design year: 2010
Construction years: 2010-2011
Photography: Cristobal Palma

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: ground floor plan

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: first floor plan

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: second floor plan

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: third floor plan

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: roof floor plan

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: isonometric sectional drawing - click above for larger image

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: section A-A

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: section B-B

Casa Arco by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Above: house elevations

  • mcmlxix

    I love this house. The verticality is exellent for the site. The Miesian metal and glass exterior belies the rough finish interior. It’s a very sucessful contrast.

  • crooner

    Earthquake-proof? Built on the slope of a hill? Really?

    • Joaquín Márquez Ruesta

      Yeah, really.

  • Anthony

    It must get very hot inside during summer. The voile curtains will only offer some glare control.

  • 3DD

    Amazing! Very beautiful house, three pictures show how great it sits within the site.

  • dan

    I believe that stair is impossible to use. But, apart from this concession, this is a true work of art.

  • http://www.souparchitects.com Patrick Walls

    Like the design rigour. Reminiscent of the late John Winter’s Corten House in Highgate, London.

  • myself

    Wow, imagine that heating bill!

  • Charlotte

    The weather in this city is neither too hot nor too cold. The house does not need any mechanical cooling or heating. There is a small stove in the center and a lot of small openings for crossed ventilation. As simple as that.

  • myself

    Charlotte dear, the weather is cold and rainy, the glass losses heat easily.
    It’s up to them but this is a fact.

  • http://www.sundayknight.com Jerry

    Wonderful, I like it. Can I use some photo for my website: http://www.sundayknight.com? Thanks!

    • http://www.dezeen.com Dezeen

      Hi Jerry. I'm afraid we don't own the rights to the photography. You would need to contact the photographer directly. Amy/Dezeen

  • Profesores

    These are the kind of publications that should be taken with caution:

    (1) On one hand, the interior and exterior perspectives look appealing and may lead an architecture student to think of it as a good project. Things that come to my view as appealing: the objectuality of the building in the site, the melange of materials (i.e. curtains, wood, metal).

    (2) Nonetheless, on a quick review of the documentation, it reveals itself as extremely basic. In formal terms, this project is defined by: its symmetry, the repetition of the ‘floor typology’ and the articulation of these spaces through the verticality of stairs.
    Judging by these facts, we should value this project as an interesting outcome of an elemental exercise examining some of the basic issues of architecture. Under no terms is this anything new, nor anything valuable to reflect upon (i.e. Japanese architecture has gone farther in these issues than this project). If anything, it should makes us aware of the unreliability of images. Furthermore, it should make us aware of the unreliability of magazines and blogs to actually learn architecture and be critical of architecture.