This Pinwheel-Shaped House of Pine Is a Lesson in Mathematical Precision
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This Pinwheel-Shaped House of Pine Is a Lesson in Mathematical Precision

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By Lucy Wang
Governed by geometry and proportions, this weekend home in Chile opens up to landscape views in all directions.

When Pablo and Daniela, a young couple with three children, decided to build a compact weekend getaway near their family farm in the Chilean commune of El Peumo, they turned to an architect familiar with both the landscape and the couple’s design values—their relative and friend Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann.

Since the vacation house would be used as a rural escape from city life in Santiago, Lehmann wanted the House in El Peumo to "foster living together and to be open to the outside in all directions, as an open terrace in the middle of the landscape," he says.

Located two hours from the clients' home in Santiago, the House in El Peumo is set on a sandy plateau surrounded by pines and cypresses.

Located two hours from the clients' home in Santiago, the House in El Peumo is set on a sandy plateau surrounded by pines and cypresses.

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In unifying the communal functions in a central, square-shaped family room perpendicularly surrounded by four equal-sized bedroom wings, the architect created a floor plan in the form of a pinwheel—a recurring shape in his work that shows his preference for gridded layouts and exacting, orthogonal forms. 

House in El Peumo floor plan

House in El Peumo floor plan

To achieve precise measurements in his design, Lehmann built the 1,754-square-foot home around fixed "modules"—two-foot-long units of measure that became his way of "measuring the natural surroundings against a constant structure and makes explicit the similarities and differences of every part and surrounding."

"When the windows open, it becomes a large terrace open to the outside along both diagonal axis," says architect Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann.

"When the windows open, it becomes a large terrace open to the outside along both diagonal axis," says architect Cristián Izquierdo Lehmann.

The central 576-square-foot living room, for instance, is bounded on each side by 12 modules. The room’s four large glazed pocket doors that open to outdoor patios are five modules each, or 10 feet in width, while the adjoining wall comprises seven modules for a width of 14 feet. "Each wall hosts a specific use—bookshelves, closets, kitchen or chimney—and an equal door at its corner," adds Lehmann.

The large pocket doors of the central room slide open to connect to adjoining patios.

The large pocket doors of the central room slide open to connect to adjoining patios.

The extended roof eave wraps around the building for shelter and protection from the sun.

The extended roof eave wraps around the building for shelter and protection from the sun.

The architect applied the 5:7 ratio of the central room to determine the form and pitch of the roof, which consists of four sets of three triangular zinc planes placed in a symmetric rotation around the central skylight to create a dramatic vaulted ceiling in the living room.

House in El Peumo roof plan

House in El Peumo roof plan

A square skylight is at the apex of the dramatic vaulted ceiling in the square-shaped family room.

A square skylight is at the apex of the dramatic vaulted ceiling in the square-shaped family room.

With concrete floors and pine construction, the minimalist home is designed to keep focus on the outdoors. Here in the square-shaped family room are the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room.

With concrete floors and pine construction, the minimalist home is designed to keep focus on the outdoors. Here in the square-shaped family room are the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room.

The minimal finishes and exposed construction celebrate the home’s mathematical precision. Pine was used as the primary construction material, chosen "because of its low carbon-print, cheapness, and expressive possibilities," explains Lehmann. "The structure is made of laminated pine and is left uncovered, making explicit the constant measures and joints that rule the project."

The four bedrooms have different sleeping configurations and enough space to accommodate friends and extended family. The bed frames are made from rauli timber.

The four bedrooms have different sleeping configurations and enough space to accommodate friends and extended family. The bed frames are made from rauli timber.

He continues, "The symmetric rotation of this asymmetrical form produces the figure of a whirlwind, thus blurring the difference of the concave center and the horizontal perimeter into an organic totality."

"The relation between the wooden structure and the soil is my favorite part of the project," says Lehmann. "The wall studs are separated from the ground by one inch, screwed to a galvanized metal piece, which is then screwed to the floor slab."

"The relation between the wooden structure and the soil is my favorite part of the project," says Lehmann. "The wall studs are separated from the ground by one inch, screwed to a galvanized metal piece, which is then screwed to the floor slab."

House in El Peumo sections

House in El Peumo sections

House in El Peumo elevations

House in El Peumo elevations

Related Reading: A Pinwheel-Shaped Cabin in Norway Is a Fresh Take on the Traditional Hytte

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Cristián Izquierdo L. / @cristian.izquierdo.l 

Builder/ General Contractor: Carlos Olivares

Structural Engineer: Osvaldo Penaloza