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CASA V

Architects: Sebastián Cruz, Alfredo Thiermann

Team: Rafael Urcelay, Maite Raschillà


Location: Santiago Chile, Chile
Area: 210 sq/m


Project: 2018

Construction: 2019

Structural Engineer: Jose Manuel Morales

Constructor: Sergio Tapia

Photography: Emile Straub ©

Casa V is a house built in the residential district of Providencia in Santiago de Chile. It is an area of traditionally good and earnest non-spectacular houses yet sadly eroded, year after year, by rampant speculative “developments.” Casa V is the conversion of one of these non-spectacular houses. The footprint of good solid walls, a humble yet elegant wooden floor, and a badly damaged lightweight roof used to occupy most of this beautiful plot in Providencia. Interested in this condition we acted by subtraction instead of addition. This apparently counterintuitive move duplicates the area of the indoor inhabitable rooms as well as the outdoor spaces of this existing urban house by virtue of selective demolitions.

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Instead of being created, the material and programmatic substance of the house is being adapted to contemporary needs.

Casa V stands in the city as its original together with its doppelgänger. It is the simple idea of presenting to the street two houses instead of one, artificially increasing the number of them relative to the number of unbearable buildings popping up all around there. One of the two entities contains all the domestic activities of the house: a continuous open room connected to the different courtyards at ground level and a simple sequence of sleeping rooms on the level above. The recessed twin stranger of the house appears to the street as a ghost, hosting no program other than the entrance and the vertical circulation within a 2-meter-wide by 7-meter-high room. The ghost uncannily resembles its twin in elevation while radically differentiating from it in plan.

 

Echoing and contrasting one another, both pieces define a series of walled courtyards around and in-between them, offering new backgrounds for domestic life both connected and secluded from the street. Duplicating the urban presence of the house towards the street while liberating a substantial part of the plot, Casa V is a potential alternative model for densification, or at least reuse, of the existing urban fabric in different parts of the city. Now completed, the house looks non-spectacular as their older neighbours do, yet the unusual oscillation produced by both quasi-identical faces make some curious passer-by to sense that something special must be going on there.

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