No. 248 . 20 July 2005 
ArchitectureWeek
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Santiago Viewpoint

by Paul Harris

"El Mirador" ("The Viewpoint") occupies a site on Cerro Apoquindo, on the eastern fringe of the Chilean capital, Santiago, near the Andean foothills. The house is dubbed "the bunker" by local taxi drivers, but the impassionate exterior concrete wall facing the street hides a light and spacious interior.

Architect Cristián Undurraga created with concrete and glass — his trademark materials — a 4100-square-foot (380-square meter) house that is sympathetic with its seasonally snowcapped mountain backdrop. The design combines a severe and sober exterior with a lucid and poetic interior for which he won an award at the XIV biennial Pan-American architecture show in Quito, Ecuador.

On approaching the house, one is confronted by a large concrete wall that cuts a line across the saw-tooth profile of the mountains behind it. This play of forms is intended more as a counterpoint between the two than as an expression of asserting man's will over nature, according to Undurraga. Narrow-slit windows compound this effect: they are angled to let in light but prevent people from looking into the house.   >>>

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