No. 280 . 29 March 2006 
ArchitectureWeek
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Chilean Lakeside

by Paul Harris

Nestled in the foliage of Lake Colico near Santiago, in Chile's Region IX, Lakeside House looks at first like a diminutive medieval castle with a stone facade. But this appearance is only the prelude to an expansive glass structure that inserts its inhabitants into the heart of nature.

Architect Cristián Undurraga, principal of Undurraga + Devés Arquitectos collaborated with Mario Marchant to design a stone, glass, steel, and reinforced concrete summer house that integrates and interacts with its forested lakeside location, combining a forbidding exterior with an open and permissive interior elaborated in Undurraga's trademark harmonization of artisanal and modern materials.

Approaching the house, one almost steps into English legend; a dirt track road leads to a low, impenetrable stone structure below a canopy of encircling trees, pocked with small, high-placed windows. A narrow bridge leads over a chasm to the asymmetrically placed entrance. Robin Hood's band of Merry Men could be hiding in the foliage.

The foreboding stone entrance and access bridge create a deliberate and intimidating constriction through which one passes to emerge onto an open patio with a panoramic view of the lake. As Undurraga explains: "you are squeezed and then you explode."

Materials and Form

The three-story, 4300-square-foot (400-square-meter) house comprises two distinct parts made of different materials — stone and glass — that provide the contrasting yin and yang: old and new, natural and synthetic. The stone walls contain the utilitarian elements of the house — the stairwells, bathrooms, and kitchens.   >>>

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