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Tunquen Treasure

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A set of solar panels, a wind-powered well, and passive sustainable strategies make living miles from municipal utilities a non-issue for this Chilean beachgoer.

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  The Casa Cuatro sits above a 180-foot cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    The Casa Cuatro sits above a 180-foot cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The locally quarried stone makes the house blend in with the landscape and acts as a thermal-mass wall, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it through the evening. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  Light floods the living and dining rooms, meaning Schneider rarely needs to turn on a lamp during the day.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Light floods the living and dining rooms, meaning Schneider rarely needs to turn on a lamp during the day. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  The thermal massing absorbs heat during the day and releases it through the evening.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    The thermal massing absorbs heat during the day and releases it through the evening. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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    Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  A side view shows off the thermal-mass wall (to the left) and the stilt construction. "The ridge floor is so fragile; we didn't want to touch it and disturb the landscape," Foster says. As a bonus, the air circulating underneath helps naturally cool the house.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    A side view shows off the thermal-mass wall (to the left) and the stilt construction. "The ridge floor is so fragile; we didn't want to touch it and disturb the landscape," Foster says. As a bonus, the air circulating underneath helps naturally cool the house. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  On the hill behind the house, a wind-powered well brings water from a 150-foot-deep hole to the surface. That water then flows to the home as needed with gravity's helping hand.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    On the hill behind the house, a wind-powered well brings water from a 150-foot-deep hole to the surface. That water then flows to the home as needed with gravity's helping hand. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  Four 85-watt Kyocera panels supply enough energy to run the appliances as well as the water pump.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Four 85-watt Kyocera panels supply enough energy to run the appliances as well as the water pump. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  From her bedroom on the lower level, Schneider can walk out onto her balcony and take in the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The wall behind the bed is the thermal-mass wall that provides heat throughout the night.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    From her bedroom on the lower level, Schneider can walk out onto her balcony and take in the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The wall behind the bed is the thermal-mass wall that provides heat throughout the night. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  The house is Schneider's escape from bustling Santiago. She spends her weekends on the coast gardening, reading, swimming, and playing rummy with her friends.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    The house is Schneider's escape from bustling Santiago. She spends her weekends on the coast gardening, reading, swimming, and playing rummy with her friends. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  A simple design was key to keeping the Casa Cuatro environmentally friendly. "You can go a long way to make a house sustainable in the early parts of the design process instead of throwing a lot of expensive technology at it later," Foster says.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    A simple design was key to keeping the Casa Cuatro environmentally friendly. "You can go a long way to make a house sustainable in the early parts of the design process instead of throwing a lot of expensive technology at it later," Foster says. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  Beyond the guest bedroom lies the rocky shore and the coastline's dramatic landscape. A 20-minute walk takes Schneider and her guests to small ponds (and calmer waters) in which to swim.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Beyond the guest bedroom lies the rocky shore and the coastline's dramatic landscape. A 20-minute walk takes Schneider and her guests to small ponds (and calmer waters) in which to swim. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  Chile recently became one of the first South American countries to incorporate insulation into its building code. "People just accepted being cold a few months of the year," Bernal says. Instead, she and Foster shored up the Casa Cuatro to North American standards with a tight building envelope. A winter fire also helps heat the house.  Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Chile recently became one of the first South American countries to incorporate insulation into its building code. "People just accepted being cold a few months of the year," Bernal says. Instead, she and Foster shored up the Casa Cuatro to North American standards with a tight building envelope. A winter fire also helps heat the house. Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
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  Having purchased the land from a friend who also has a house in the community, Schneider had a better sense of what she wanted—and what she didn't—her site. "From the experience at the neighbor's house," Foster says, "she knew she didn't want the house to have its back to the morning sun so we created a deck and somewhere to sit outside that faces east."Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by Cristóbal Palma.
    Having purchased the land from a friend who also has a house in the community, Schneider had a better sense of what she wanted—and what she didn't—her site. "From the experience at the neighbor's house," Foster says, "she knew she didn't want the house to have its back to the morning sun so we created a deck and somewhere to sit outside that faces east."

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by Cristóbal Palma.

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