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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."