Just Getting to This Remote Patagonian Retreat Is an Adventure

By Jenny Xie / Published by Dwell

A vacation home for a Chilean family rises on stilts from a rocky cliff, enjoying idyllic views of Lago Todos los Santos.

Situated on a 70-degree slope and accessible only by boat, Casa Lago Todos los Santos proved a challenge to build. The home, designed as a remote retreat for a Chilean couple and their three children, takes its name from the sprawling, 43,000-acre lake in Southern Chile’s Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. The diverse landscape also encompasses mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, and lush native forests. Lead architect Angie Chadwick of Apio Arquitectos explains of the client, "They were looking for a place with no phone connections or internet access, so they can really get connected with nature and family life. We started the project with the ambition of making a place where they can spend a simple day together, cooking, playing, reading, fishing."

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"The house almost flies over the lake with an amazing view of the volcanoes and an idyllic landscape that you can never get tired of," says Chadwick. 

Alejandra Valenzuela

Modular corrugated steel protects the house against year-round rain. Home automation company Home Control outfitted the residence with energy-efficient LED lights and zone-specific audio systems.

Alejandra Valenzuela

A mudroom has storage space for fishing gear, wet shoes, and jackets.

Alejandra Valenzuela

Pine wood "tejuelas," or planks used for cladding and ceilings, wrap the entire interior in keeping with the Southern Chile regional vernacular. Its muted tones speak to the surrounding environment as well.

Alejandra Valenzuela

The lake’s southern shore, where the structure resides, is extremely rocky with limited soil on which to build. To manage the steeply sloped lot with minimal impact on the natural environment, the builders decided to use a pillar system, bolting steel tubing to the foundation to support a firm platform for the house. The materials, all locally sourced, had to be delivered by boat and installed without heavy machinery. Likewise, the family ferries in all their necessary supplies when they visit, such as food and gas. "It’s a real adventure!" says Chadwick.

All the furniture in the home was created out of surplus building materials.

Alejandra Valenzuela

The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom; on the other side of the house, another bedroom sleeps four, and a loft space provides two additional beds.

Alejandra Valenzuela

Behind the house, a fish cleaning station leads to the laundry room and a storage room.

Alejandra Valenzuela

"The weather is really good in summer with really hot days, but almost the entire rest of the year is rainy, with wind and clouds," says Chadwick of the national park. "It's one of those places where you can live through all four seasons in a day."

Alejandra Valenzuela

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