Pezo von Ellrichshausen's Casa Cien is a home
and studio with a bumpy concrete finish

| 8 comments

Architect duo Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen built this seven-storey concrete tower in the Chilean countryside to house their own living quarters as well as a studio for their firm (photos by Cristobal Palma + movie).

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Named Casa Cien, the building was designed by Pezo Von Ellrichshausen to accommodate both the needs of their small architectural practice and their home, within a tower-like structure that nestles into the surrounding landscape.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The two-storey base of the structure is partly submerged into the hillside, creating a large basement workshop and a ground-floor of living spaces. A five-storey tower rises up from its centre, creating a mixture of domestic rooms and work studios that are each connected by different staircases.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

"Decisive coincidences such as the amount of steps on a hill path nearby, or the statue of an old cypress, or even the whole number of the elevation above sea level that defines the podium could be used to explain the format of this building's silhouette," explained the architects.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Constructed from concrete, Casa Cien is coated with layers of concrete aggregate that give a rough texture to the exterior. Square windows of different sizes puncture these walls, with glazing recessed to give a sense of thickness.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

A simple rectilinear grid defines the layout of rooms inside the building – an approach that Pezo Von Ellrichshausen has used in various projects, including the symmetrical Casa Pezo in Spain.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

"Within two unified formats, an extended floor plan and a concentrated one, we organise the same unit 12 times: a square figure asymmetrically divided into four rooms," said the architects.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen
Photography by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The first of two spiralling wooden staircases leads up from the main living area to lounge and bedroom spaces on the two levels above.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The second staircase leads up from the podium to the three uppermost floors, where studios and meeting rooms accommodate between four and six employees. Gaps in the floor plates offer unexpected views above and below.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Timber panels line the insides of walls and have been painted white throughout. The architects also added built-in furniture to fit with the exact proportions of the space.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Photography is by Cristobal Palma, apart from where otherwise indicated.

Here's a project description from Pezo von Ellrichshausen:


Casa Cien

Decisive coincidences such as the amount of steps on a hill path nearby, or the statue of an old cypress that reminds those described by Walter Pater, or even the whole number of the elevation above sea level that defines the podium could be used to explain the format of this building's silhouette.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

But the reasons that shape a house are always others; always the same ones. Within two unified formats, an extended floor plan and a concentrated one, we organise the same unit twelve times: a square figure asymmetrically divided into four rooms.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Sometimes central, others lateral, or even in a diagonal disposition, each unit establishes a different relation amongst the rooms. Potentially, the lower rooms will be occupied with the heavy duties of a workshop. The upper rooms with the almost immaterial routines of the everyday trades. Trapped between these two factual worlds the domestic life rests protected; a large room for the daily use and a couple of bedrooms piled on it for the night.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The main room steps down towards the west. By maintaining the lintels at one defined horizon, the progressive sequence of frames makes the perception of its depth relative. Entering the main room is equivalent to diving under the platform defined by the whole number (100).

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

You reach the studio by facing a mirror that shows in the inside what lies across the street. Entering the tower is a kind of blindness. Here, the cypress turned into steps locks into a continuous spiral that slowly offers the sight back while ascending.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

The construction is a regular and monolithic layering of concrete with exposed aggregate. In the interior the walls are wrapped by surfaces of painted wood, almost without thickness and barely interrupted by the galvanised steel frames that hold the windows in place.

Casa Cien by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Location: Concepcion, Chile
Architects: Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen
Collaborators: Bernhard Maurer, Eleonora Bassi, Valeria Farfan, Michael Godden
Client: Pezo von Ellrichshausen Ltda.
Builder: Ricardo Ballesta
Structure: Patricio Bonelli
Building services: Marcelo Valenzuela, Jaime Tatter
Plot surface: 530 m2
Built surface: 430 m2

  • Freddy Garcia

    It is cold outside, cold inside. I hope the occupants can cope well with depression. Looks like a modern version of Medieval dungeons.

  • Stephen

    Easy to criticise the “death trap” holes in the floor and the oppressive cell-like spaces but I actually think this is architecture as art. I really like it. Shows up the vast majority of current architecture as shallow form-making.

  • http://www.libertydisciple.com/ The Liberty Disciple

    Just how practical is this arrangement? Novelty and concept aside; stacking tiny rooms with a tight spiral staircase seems to be quite claustrophobic.

    When I imagine an architecture studio, I imagine a layout that facilitates collaboration and communication. Stacking individual studios like this, lends itself to seclusion. The interesting outcome for this project, would be the designs of future buildings, that are created in vertical tower.

  • grb

    “Cold inside, cold outside.” And yet, when you watch the Vimeo video of people inhabiting the house, it looks like a wonderful place to live: http://vimeo.com/35677929

  • Gary Walmsley

    If the client is satisfied, fine for him/her, but I find it oppressive and confining.

    • Leo

      The client is the architect. And who cares what you find from looking at some images. Or, how some of you “imagine” an architecture studio. Show me what you made that has a fragment of matter.

      • Gary Walmsley

        It’s a comments Section Leo. Oh, and rest assured, I hold your comment to me in the same esteem that you hold mine.

  • Alex K.

    With all due respect to the architects, this sounds like the BS we sell to our teachers at critiques: “Entering the tower is a kind of blindness… locks into a continuous spiral that slowly offers the sight back while ascending.”

    Translation: When you enter the house, you’re inside and can’t see the surroundings all that much, then when you’re at the roof terrace, you can see them again (like every house with a roof terrace, ever). Also, it’s cool that you enter through a mirror.