Catalina House by Ignacio Rojas Hirigoyen

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The Catalina House is an interesting example of how timber can be used in a challenging area to create a very interesting house for a single family. The work was done by Ignacio Rojas Hirigoyen and the project finished in 2018. This rather minimalist looking house is located in Pichilemu, Punta de Lobos, Chile, a surfer and fishermen village and offers a living area of 85 square meters.

The local area did go through a strong development in the real estate market in the past few years. This is mainly because of the region’s touristic potential, with land prices quickly going up. A vacant lot was available for this project but it had some small dimensions, just 335 square meters. As you can see, the slope that had to be solved was also substantial.

Catalina House is placed inside a high-density condominium so the architects had to break angles in the roof and facades. The result is interesting because of how the slope problem was solved and the contrast of textures, reflections and materials. A distance is practically created from the surroundings while also instantly standing out.

According to the architects, initially the slope and the requirements were seen as constraints but they did quickly become opportunities that define the project. A clear strategy was created: using pilotis to rise the house, allowing the ground level to be free. This also improves sea views, of course.

The building includes a bathroom and 2 small bedrooms. There are also some ample common areas that are linked to each other. This is where the family will spend most of the time. Light is a large part of the interior, a fact that is instantly visible by the skylight at the entrance, which invites you to look up as you go inside.

Light nuances change as the day passes. The ceiling and the walls have inclined planes, allowing textures and materials to create a stunning effect as there is an alternate experience created between wood and white. The timber itself even manages to showcase time passing as it changes tone from whitish to golden.

Since light is so important, it should be no surprise to notice the generous windows. A really good illumination is offered by them during the day. Towards the house’s street side, access comes from the south and facades are hermetic.

The use of timber is important since this is a big economic activity in the region. It is really easy to find timber so the construction itself becomes more affordable. Wood is also very good for the seismic conditions of Chile. This is an area that was hit by a tsunami and an earthquake in 2010. Sustainability and respecting a specific budget were important things for the client. Needless to say, the use of timber made this possible.

Photographs: Pablo Casals Aguirre

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