It was a daring feat—applied in any other fashion, the thorough use of concrete in a home might feel oppressive, but at Casa Bosque by Besonías Almeida Arquitectos, it’s sublime.
Set on the dunes of the Argentine coast some 200 miles from Buenos Aires, Casa Bosque—which translates to "Forest Home"—doesn’t just rest on the earth; it is steeped in it. Nestled in a dense, ancient forest, the home’s texture and palette are harmonious with its natural surroundings.
"The construction coexists with its environment in the friendliest way," says María Victoria Besonías, principal at Besonías Almeida Arquitectos. "This is why the house accompanies, without any modification, the natural slope of the dunes, while pretending not to be resting."
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That slope is more than six feet, and in respecting the land, Besonías accommodated the pitch by way of three staggered volumes, giving rise to the formation of small courtyards that become an organic extension of the home.
To achieve this, the siting was rotated to align the main axis north-south, which resulted in two well-differentiated facades. To the east is street exposure; to the west, dense forestation.
"The main challenge was to ensure that the facade did not create dark interiors," says Besonías. To ensure privacy while letting in light, the architects used controlled openings on one side and exposure on the other, inviting in its natural surrounding landscape, interspersed with a series of courtyards. "With the proposed interior courtyards, not only was it possible to provide additional light, but also to recreate a new landscape of minimal scale," she says.
Both inside and out, concrete and glass permeate the home as a way to respond to the formal, structural, functional, finishing, and maintenance issues. And it works.
"The expressive quality of the concrete and its properties of resistance and impermeability made any type of surface finish unnecessary, achieving also a low cost of execution in the finishing and future maintenance," says Besonías. The reinforced concrete, made with wooden slab formwork, creates a "forceful and discreet presence, allowing the work to express itself in harmony with the forest."
But the project serves more than achieving balance with its surroundings; it had a clearly defined program to produce, including generous meeting space, a visually integrated kitchen, two bedrooms, a living area that could be converted to a guest room, and an expansive terrace. Besonías incorporated it all into an open floor plan of 1,600 square feet, the north end a significant, covered patio serving as an extended living room to distant vistas. Yet it’s not the only part of the home with views.
"The most interesting aspect of this project is the spatial richness achieved with the incorporation of the interior courtyards," says Besonías. "These small, open spaces are added to the adjoining rooms, giving a feeling of greater spaciousness and a changing atmosphere due to the effects produced by the light entering through them—the multiple reflections on the panes of glass and the vegetation that develops there. They also offer a view of the sky and the surrounding grove from the most varied angles of the plan."
While concrete of this scale might feel cold, Besonías created warmth by looking to the land. From the courtyards to the views and the sloped dune it embraces, Casa Bosque is more than a home in a forest. It is part of a privileged landscape—which Besonías gave the respect it deserves.
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