Casa en los Arboles is, as the name suggests, a house in the trees. Built on a sloping, secluded site in the Argentine countryside, the home is a unique weekend retreat for a nature-loving couple from the city of Buenos Aires. From the beginning, says architect Luciano Kruk, the couple was interested in an elevated structure that would afford views of the ocean and treetops without sacrificing the feeling that the home was nestled in the woods.
Because of the home’s intended purpose as a second house, Kruk designed it as a secluded retreat—a place to get away from it all. "A getaway home should guarantee disconnection," he explains. "For this, it must concede a place to enjoy the landscape in which is implanted and embrace its energy. At the same time, it should be practical, functional, and most importantly, easy to maintain."
Kruk wanted the house to have as little physical impact on the landscape as possible. He started by designing a compact house—but then went a step further, lifting the home from the ground and minimizing its footprint. "As the house is an object inserted into this rich landscape, the intention was for it to have a minimum impact on the surrounding land," he says.
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The resulting design rests upon a single central pillar. The two upper floors expand out around the central column, giving the home the appearance of an inverted ziggurat. Heavily reinforced concrete slabs are cantilevered off the main support by up to nine feet. Inside, the poured concrete is left exposed, and the stripes and impressions left behind by wooden forms provide a subtle visual reference to the trees that are the home’s namesake.
Wraparound windows on all sides of the first floor provide immersive views of the surrounding woods, making the minimal interior feel like a home carved out of the landscape itself. The logic here, according to Kruk, was to make the windows a part of the structure of the house.
"The window placement was conceptualized as a series of elements that crystallizes and continues the morphology that the concrete elements form, completing the object. The color was chosen for the same purpose—the carpentry lines shouldn’t take any attention, so as not to be perceived as isolated elements, merging with the concrete structure tones."
Perhaps the house’s most striking feature is its swimming pool. Shaped like an enormous concrete sarcophagus filled with blue water, it’s lifted up from the forest floor to the level of the home on a single concrete fin. Viewed from the house, the effect is of an infinity pool extending from the glassed-in living room into the surrounding forest.
An appealingly geometric concrete staircase floats towards the home’s second floor. Attached only to one wall, it’s unencumbered by handrails or support from below. On the second floor, privacy plays a greater role—and it’s apparent from looking at the house’s exterior. At this level the windows face only one direction, toward the sea, and a concrete overhang shades them from the sun like a visor.
From outside, the home appears to hover amid a copse of small trees, and the exposed concrete looks pale amid the forest’s earth tones. As time passes, the trees continue to grow, and the cement begins to weather, Kruk hopes that the home and its landscape will become further entwined. "Harmonizing with the surrounding forest through its color and texture, this artificial stone coexists with its surroundings—a condition that will increase with the passing of the years," he tells Dwell.
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