This Chilean House Recreates the Hot Spring Experience with a Super Luxurious Stone Tub

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By Zachary Edelson / Published by Dwell
Located in a forest in the Andean foothills, a house draws from the region’s geology to produce a unique bathing experience.

The sunken bathtub in Carlos Winckler and Birghita Teuber’s new home may seem novel until you speak to their son—and the project’s architect—Cristian Winckler. He wanted to keep their new 3,000-square-foot residence, located in a cloudy climate, as bright as possible. No fewer than nine atriums punctuate the home’s interiors to admit as much sunlight as possible and foster a connection to nature. One such connection occurs in a bathroom; Winckler—who started his own firm after this project—says he "wanted the bathtub to be in situ so [its] relation with the outside patio and the vegetation is more direct." Its local stone surfacing and subterranean design evoke the hot springs common to the area; in Osorno one need only "make a hole in the land and [out comes] hot water."

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A Chilean home’s dramatic stained-pine exterior references local vernacular architecture.

The home’s exterior is also rooted in its environment: Eschewing the Alpine-style architecture of nearby dwellings, Winckler emulated the all-black barns—called galpóns—found in the area. With ample space for relaxation and socializing, the house is ideal for retirement, though Carlos and Birghita remain active: At 77 and 75, respectively, he’s a livestock veterinarian and she teaches yoga. Still, at their age, do they fear the step down into the bathtub? "They complained a little bit at the beginning," says Winckler, but now "they enjoy stepping down into the tub; it’s like getting into a thermal bath."

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The bathroom is poured-in-place concrete surfaced in laja stone, a local material chosen by the architect to evoke the region’s thermal baths. The space opens to a private garden via two doors—one in the shower, the other behind the toilet. The shower fittings are from Paini.

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The lower terrace, which features a hot tub, is farther down the hill to immerse its users in the landscape.

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When not in use during winter, the tub is hidden from the home’s view. The entrance has a sheltered overhang for car parking.