Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger

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Castro, Chile
  • Project Architect: Francis Pfenniger B.
  • Collaborator: Valeria Verlezza M.
  • Construcción: Administración mandante
  • Costo Construcción: UF 15/m2
  • City: Castro
  • Country: Chile
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Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 9 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

Text description provided by the architects. THE PLACE

In Rilan Peninsula, facing the Castro canal, the site captivates with its views (near and far) and a varied topography. From the arrival above, a mature coigüe tree marks its presence against a wide, clear and green slope. Some groups of trees on the edges of the slope limit the property and the view, defining a large pasture which highlights a group of apple trees. At the front, the Castro canal marks the geographic south. To the east, the inland sea allows a distant and more relaxed view. To the west it borders a small forest and a stream. The land is spacious and has a strong but not excessive slope that can be walked upon. The view seems to embrace the whole, but some rolling hills and a depression which lies to the west, lie to us.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 13 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

To cross it is a discovery, a suggestive walk. Full of nooks, accents, views, streams, trees, suggesting a magical space full of possible meanings for children and adults. Here there is fruit, beyond the native forest, in another corner there is a cypress or pine. The reading corner, the viewpoint, the house in the forest, the orchard, the pasture for sheep, everything fits here, because it seems to fit all dreams, all images, all fantasies and all the magic of Chiloé.

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The cabin is a home, a family place, a significant place, a place that now builds memories for the future. A place inhabited not only on vacation but that is reached whenever possible. In that sense, a place that is near. A place that invites and demand projects, activities and events. A project that invites the whole family.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 4 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

The project should address how to live in the hillside, highlighting the best views over the near and far and ensuring optimum sunlight and conditioning against the local weather.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 8 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

The main views are to the south and east. The first are spectacular but do not provide sun. The opening to the east ensures distant views and good sunshine. In a place of much rain, fog and cold, the sun is welcome: the afternoon sun, before it is lost behind the forest. Also the northern sun, a little to the back of the site; providing light, but also wind and rain.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 14 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

The cabin should address the weather, it should be cozy, warm, must be able to close in on itself if necessary: a shelter. But it should expand, open up the sun when the summer allows, celebrate the landscape, the garden, the pasture and the territory in which it is inserted.

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The project is treated as a refuge and a viewpoint that partially adapts to the hillside. A first integrated, simple volume: a large mantle forms the roof and side walls. The side walls are very dilated skins made up of a wooden lattice where the window openings are redrawn. The simple volume refers to a geometry that is no stranger to the place and, in fact, is discovered in a small building in ruins that exists on the site. The house is accessed through an aisle from the front door. Beyond the second door there is an open corridor as a bridge that organizes the space. To the left, the bathroom door, closets and bedrooms. To the right is the living, dining room and kitchen. The difference in level allows for seating next to the big table.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 3 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

The main windows are eastward and open onto a covered terrace. The terrace extends to a balcony that surrounds the house and ends opposite the kitchen.

The second stage is designed to be built without interfering with the current construction: a window becomes a door. The volume receives the basic program described and everything has ready access to the 2nd bathroom. One bedroom descends a little, the other is on the 2nd floor, approaching the slope. Both have their own private balconies with superb views of the inland sea.

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 16 of 26
© Carlos Hevia


The construction is proposed to reuse as much waste materials as possible from the salmon industry (in which the client works), and domestic recycling. A study by the undergraduate student at the University of Chile Nicole Garcia shows that the main reusable waste materials of this industry are wood (as pallets); steel profiles from cages galvanized into different sections and geometries; expanded polystyrene from buoys and floats; nets; and polymers of various types and in various forms.

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We decided to work primarily with the pallets, steel and polystyrene. Thus, to form the two planes of the house, we conceive a substructure made from galvanized steel tubular profiles 150mm in diameter and 5mm thick, connected by beams also made from galvanized steel sections of 150 x 50 x 4mm. This platform is adapted with special pieces to support the wooden structure that constitutes the house. The structure is dimensioned according to the wood that could be recovered, but can be adapted to all conditions: it is basically a column and beam structure. It is made with sturdy poles 8" x 8" in section. The posts support the wood beams 3" x 8" in section, forming the basic structure of the building. All joints are bolted

Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger - Image 12 of 26
© Carlos Hevia

The pallets are in between the frames, filled with polystyrene plates , so the project is modulated according to the dimensions of the pallet (1.20 x 1.20m), completed with a strip of 1 "x 5" on the edge to allow for their connection. The inner cladding is made of plywood boards. The outer cladding is based on recovered moisture barrier tetrapack boxes stapled against the pallet slats with the aluminized face outward.

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On this, 1" slats separate the lining of the ventilated facade: painted steel plates. The roof is made of steel plate and contains thermal insulation based on the same recovered polystyrene plates. In some of the access and enclosure walls, wood recovered from an old pier is used. It is laid out randomly, allowing for different thickness, texture and colors. The flooring is made of wood. The terrace pavements are made with perforated galvanized steel plates recovered from the corridors of cages in farming centers. Railings and protections are made recovering galvanized steel material. Only in the windows do we use new material that assures the thermal comfort of the house: PVC frames and DVH glass.

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Cite: "Holmes - Fuentealba House / Francis Pfenniger" [Casa Holmes - Fuentealba / Francis Pfenniger] 09 Jan 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/585090/holmes-fuentealba-house-francis-pfenniger> ISSN 0719-8884

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