When a family from Santiago called on architect Baltazar Sánchez to build a weekend residence on rural Chiloé Island, the design objective was simple: to design a home that "seemed like it was always there," says Sánchez. Merging old and new, the unassuming family getaway keeps a low profile on the scenic coast.
At the project’s onset, the family had modest plans to add a quincho—a simple structure with a fireplace and barbecue prevalent in Southern Chile—to an existing home on the property. Fitting with tradition, the quincho would provide a generous gathering space, offsetting the smaller interior living and dining spaces. As the project evolved, however, the shortcomings of the existing home prompted the clients to change course, ultimately deciding to design an entirely new residence while preserving the existing structure for a guesthouse.
Although the project’s scope grew, the couple was adamant that the design maintain its simplicity and fit within the context of the agrarian landscape. The couple was insistent that the home "look like a barn and not a modern house," recalls Sánchez. "It had to be a work that belonged to the place, and in no case a strange animal of very modern architecture."
The home is located in Punta Chilen on Chiloé, just south of mainland Chile. The slope of the land and sometimes challenging coastal weather guided the siting of the dwelling. "Due to the topography of the terrain and the humidity of the area, the house was designed on piles detached from the ground," explains Sánchez.
On the exterior, micro-corrugated zinc sheets protect parts of the house directly exposed to wind and rain, while the sheltered faces are clad in pine wood paneling treated with a special product for humidity.
Local wood was used throughout the interior, from the recycled floor boards, to the pine paneling on the walls and ceilings, to the locally built furniture crafted from the same pine. "The work was completed with materials and builders from the island, so [the home] is 99% from there," says Sánchez.
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The layout of the home smartly prioritizes privacy and circulation, while embracing the site’s existing conditions. Sánchez designed the home around a central orchard that the family wished to preserve. Flanked by extra-wide corridors, the circular layout was devised "with the intention that when the weather was bad, the children could play in those places and go around the house, almost like it was a car track," says Sánchez.
The home’s many open-air spaces and windows help connect it to the changing natural forces. "A very important topic in Chiloé is the weather and its sky," reflects Sánchez. "It is said that during the same day, the four seasons of the year pass—so the sky is always a spectacle."