Location: Rosario, Argentina
Architects: Johnston MarkLee & Diego Arraigada Arquitecto
Principals-in-Charge: Mark Lee, Diego Arraigada
Project Architect: Sharon Johnston AIA
Project Team: Juliana Esposito, Jeff Adams, Pablo Gamba, Nazarena Infante, Nadia Carassai, Anne Rosenberg, Anton Schneider
Site Area: 2113 m2
Interior Area: 297 m2
Total Built Area: 361 m2
Developer: Lucas Ma (President, Markee LLC)
Structural Engineer: Ing Gonzalo Garibay
General Contractor: MECSA, Ing Gustavo Micheletti
Materials: Exposed Concrete, Anodized Aluminum, Plaster, Polished concrete, Polished Terrazzo, Lapacho Hardwood
Photographs: Gustavo Frittegotto
The View House is designed under conditions generated by both the potential and limitations of large suburban developments. Situated near Rosario on the vast landscape of the Argentine plains, the 3200 sq foot house occupies a 22,750 sq foot parcel. The design is driven by two conflicting desires: engaging the living experience of the house with the views of the surrounding landscape and preserving privacy from neighbors.
Planning demands and the unique position of the peripheral corner lot demanded a specific approach to the massing of the house and its engagement with the landscape. A compact massing strategy with a minimal footprint liberates and preserves the ground, defining a two story structure. By denying the traditional front, side, and rear yard designations, and instead intensifying the facade as a surface that continuously modulates the relationship of interior to exterior, the perception of the house unfolds through a sequence of oblique views where every surface of façade becomes primary.
The formal and tectonic complexity of the house results from the repetition of four basic geometric subtractions from a primitive mass that create a dynamic exterior shape perceived simultaneously as embedded and lofted, cantilevered and slumped. In the interior, these operations define a continuous and modulated space that spirals upwards from the ground level to the roof terrace in a sequence of living areas. The four geometric subtractions have differentiated volumetric impressions on the inside of the house, each of which, together with a contiguous aperture, results in an interior landscape of paired surfaces, views, and lighting effects.
The rotational strategy for the apertures results from the framing of desirable landscape features, the anticipation of neighboring developments and the choreography of internal circulation. The reduction of electric and HVAC demands by facilitating cross ventilation and natural light have also been taken into consideration. Varying in height, orientation, and depth, each framed opening captures a distinct view, providing alternating relationships between interior and exterior. The layering of subtractions and apertures also relates to the tectonic demands of the overall concrete shell. As a culmination of the internal circulation along a path of 360º, a flight of steps leads up to a panoramic roof deck, from which the expansive surrounding landscape can be perceived from a new height.
The rough concrete shell of the house was built using traditional local techniques and its form and finish retain the impression of the means and methods of its construction. In contrast, the interior of the house is smooth and polished in nature. Lightly hued terrazzo floors on the first floor are distinguished from the smooth plaster walls only by a degree of reflectivity and polish. The black window frames punctuate the views and define a contrast with the white interior atmosphere. In more intimate, private spaces, Lapacho wood covers the floors creating a new contrast with the walls and ceilings.