BAK Arquitectos propose choices which guarantee the survival of the natural environment.
Mar Azul is a place well-known for us since time ago, so when in 2004 we built our first work, we knew that we have to join in a land that despite of its worthy landscape, it has never count with a legal support that protect this patrimony of those which built with a unique aim: get the most out of the earth. This land neither count with a code that, understanding the logic of this privileged space, regulate resolving the difference between this inappropriate constructions and the possibility of building without losing the properties of the site. In addition to this situation, the habit of building “picturesque houses in a place of fantasy” is taming slowly the forest, which is nowadays owner of a strong wild presence.
Operate in this site meant to know the maladjustments and see how the Architects can make an alternative contribution.
The answer was the proposal of architecture of minimums resources in the materials and in the form, not only as an aesthetic solution but as an ethical principle of recovery the rational use of the different available resources. This architecture must be incorporated to the landscape, looking to be part of the reality that already exists. To make it possible, is necessary to know “how to listen” what the sites tell us, so the firsts approaches must been free of old prejudices to can capture not only the tangible data but the atmospheres that the place gives us, those which we can only perceives if our looks are free of preconceptions. This meant we have to practice the exercise of “watching for the first time”. Consider the data, let the place invade us and imagine how the own project capitalizes them, this is critical to ensure that architecture and landscape are based.
We have already practice this exercise, going to Mar Azul in many opportunities, so we worth the strong presence of the landscape and we have known the microclimate the forest provides: the attenuation of the strong sea winds, the constant shadow of the trees protecting from the hot weather in the summer, but at the same time, producing a humid environment in the winter, and the fact that under the pines is smaller the amount of light during the whole year. We also knew that the forest does not require maintenance apart from removing the dry vegetation, unless other specie is introduced and broke the actual harmony.
Take advantage from what the environment give us:
Recognize this particularly microclimate was determinant to make choices in the aesthetic and constructive system of the house. It was necessary to gain light so it allows us to consider the entirely work as a “semi covered”, resolving it by using big glasses which provides, from the inside, greats views to the sea and to the landscape; an from the outside, reflects the nature making the work camouflages with it. The necessities of build the work as fast as possible and have no maintenance make us choice the reinforced concrete as the constructive solution. The shadow allows us to use this material because it provides thermal protection from the spring to the autumn and its conditioning in the winter was not relevant because it is a Summer House. The waterproof insulation was resolved by a high compactness concrete and studying the outer skin to make faster the water drainage.
Judicious use of available resources:
The expressiveness qualities of the reinforced concrete and its properties of resistance and impermeability, make it unnecessary to use a surface finish, gaining a low budget in its execution without a future maintenance. On the other hand, the color and texture of the concrete made by formwork of wood tables provides a strong and mimetic presence at the same time, allowing the work be in harmony with the landscape. In brief, an outer skin made by two materials: glass and concrete, resolve the integration with the landscape and gives us an answer to the Functional, Formal and Structural issues of the surface finish and maintenance.
With the same canon, the resolution of the outdoors activities was the result of making the minimum intervention in the environment. We avoid any kind of landscaping, not only because of the convenience of doesn’t have to maintain it but us avoid the unnecessary bounds in a place without a lot of constructions yet. We like this strong homogeneity in the forest, made by coniferous, acacias, and some high grassland that are the dominant vegetation in the dunes zone near the sea.
Mar Azul is a seaside town at 400km south of Buenos Aires, characterized for his large dune beach and his leafy coniferous forest. The owners, has chosen a field in the forest with a challenging topography, away from the sea and from the most lived zone, to construct a cottage without loosing the important presence of the landscape.
The experience of a constructed house in the same landscape (Mar Azul House), with satisfactory results, allowed us to perform and develop functional and aesthetics-constructed issues in the next project, emphasizing the performance of the selected system and solving the location in the complex topography.
At the moment of choosing the construction alternatives we focus on a low budget, a reduced impact in the landscape, minimum or none posterior maintenance and a short time of construction.
According to this parameters, the house was solved like a concrete prism of extended proportions and minimum height. It is located on a flat surface in a field that has a strong diagonal slope (a difference of 6m between opposite corners).
On this way it is scarcely modified the section of dune and the views are not interrupted from the bordering fields to the great landscape so that some time from now only a floor would be observed (in fact the ceiling of the house), covered by dry foliage of the pines.
The construction is located parallel short side of the field and the slope of the dune is oblique respect to the orthogonal one, the house appears halfed-buried in one of its angles and with its foundations exposed in the opposite one.
Consequently, the pure form that contains the summer activities seems to emerge from the dune with two differentiates façades. The SW façade is sunk in the sand with an opening that appears from the beginning to the end and which height is accompanying the slope of the dune. On the other hand, the NW façade is a curtain wall like a balcony that allows distant views but, at the same time, it is partially protected of the glances from the street by partition walls, that vary theirs position and amount according to the atmosphere they protect.
The glasses reflect the landscape as the house is observed from outside, and they create and emphasize a series of vertical elements of much protagonism (true and reflected trees, true and reflected thin walls), that reduce the importance of the strong horizontal presence of the prism, and offer to the observer changing sights while it’s moving.
The functional organization:
It is a prototype plan. On the balcony façade the main room are one after one, joined by a deck. On the sunken façade, we find the bathrooms and the kitchen, and in the end that goes “unburing itself”, the dining room.
The house does not have a main entrance. It is a flexible construction in which we can get in by any of the rooms.
The “concrete furniture” defines the dormitories. These ones are 0.70m separated from the curtain wall façade through two permanent windows that can be removed or replaced by doors.
With this resource the rooms enlarge visually extending to the contiguous one and in any location of the house the totally of the façade can be recomposed.
The place to park the car, the barbecue and the platform to sunbathe and refresh yourself and all the outer activities are determinate by the own topography of the place and were not organized by functional reasons.
It has also been decided not to modify the garden so much, to keep the natural quality of the landscape.
It was decided for this new experience to eliminate the structural iron cross section to take to the limit the concept of null later maintenance. The plan of the house (6.90m x 14m) is a reinforced concrete slab that rest in the partition walls of the main façade. In the opposite side was solved with a jutting out that makes possible an opening in all the extension without intermediate supports.
The jutting out is supported by three partitions walls that move of the line of the facade.
The inner partition walls are of revoked hollow bricks and painted with white latex. The floor is made of concrete“es de paños de alisado de cemento divididos por planchuelas de aluminio”. The joins between walls and floor were solved with a aluminum cross section to the skirting board. The openings are of dark bronze anodizing aluminum. The heating system, since there is no gas service in the zone, was solved with a wood burning stove that acclimatize the meeting place, the first dormitory and the corridor. The main dormitory and the baths are heated with electrical plates.
Our objective was to let natural light enter to all rooms, incorporating a light entrance above the concrete furniture that contains the wood burning stove. According to that objective, a slice was projected on the ceiling creating multiple luminance effects in the walls and also in the floor that vary along the day. The same happens to the shadows of the thin walls from the façade.
The protection of light and visual from outside was solved by blackout curtains.
It was specially designed for this house, made by recovered Canadian pines wood from motor boxes packing.
The table is a concrete slab joined to exterior wall.
Location: Mar Azul, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Architect: BAK Arquitectos | María Victoria Besonías, Guillermo de Almeida, Luciano Kruk
Collaborator: Sebastián Indri
Land Area: 595,5 sqm
Built Area: 90 sqm
Construction Year: 2006-2007