Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Exterior Photography, Windows

Text description provided by the architects. Chile’s Patagonian landscape is defined by the immensity of nature in relation to the small density of constructions imposed upon it. The Monreal House is in the middle of remote Patagonia Mountain, and its construction processes were thought about this special location condition. From the beginning, given the sitting conditions, the design had to resolve two primary requirements. It is a grid project that considers the adverse conditions that affect construction in this type of region: remoteness, difficult access to and frequent lack of supply of materials, and a harsh working climate. The architectural concept is guided by the slope of the terrain, as well as by the wish to maintain the Monreal ´lake horizon. It was decided that the entire layout should be confined to two levels, establishing a relation to the lake and mountains by sitting the house against the slope.

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Image 8 of 26
Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Image 11 of 26

The project’s architectural floorplan is organized in two areas. One is the living and common areas adjacent to the entrance. The other includes bedrooms and bathrooms.  The entire site is laid out comprehensively from two levels, which increase in height as the terrain falls below it, using diagonal wooden pillars for support. The house features a north and west façade completely open towards the lake. The east and south are designed to respect the privacy of the site as well as the proper utilization of natural light. The project aspires to be timeless by resolving the structure image with a single material, the Lenga wood (a local oak), a finish that binds the house to local building tradition, while the architectural detail enriches the concept of a mountain refuge. The black zinc material finish of the refuge is consolidated in the integrity of this prismatic envelope that can withstand wind and snow in winter. The refuge was built by expert local carpenters. It was also a great challenge to optimize the timing of construction in consideration of the limited building season in such rainy latitudes. The wooden structure is proposed as an important part of the house’s overall expression. The minimum ecological impact is sought on the fragile vegetal soil, which is very thin in this southern latitude. This strategy was defined from a composite structural system of wooden pillars and diagonals delicately posed on the ground like an insect. This design allowed small excavations in the ground, allowing grass to grow under the house.

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Exterior Photography

The internal section structure of the project illustrates this timber system. Due to the mountain climate, the protection of the timber was designed as a system of superimposed elements, one on top of the other, exposed to wind and therefore exposed to natural ventilation that dries the wood. Given the snow that falls in winter, the foundations are designed with an 80 cm plinth that rises above the natural soil to support the wood joinery technique system of pillars and diagonals from there.

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Exterior Photography, Windows
Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Image 22 of 26

The roof is designed to capture sunlight entirely in winter through a roofing angle carefully calculated for that purpose. In summer, this same angle obstructs the passage of light during the hours of most intense radiation. The entire structure of the house was designed to minimize supports and foundations and to maintain the continuity of the vegetative soil.

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Interior Photography, Living Room, Sofa, Beam, Windows
Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Interior Photography, Windows, Table, Beam, Chair

Made from locally sourced Lenga wood, the structure features 6”x6” pillars and diagonals, a master framework of 2”x10” (x3), and secondary beams of 2”x8”. These elements form a complex system of overlapping components that reflects the characteristic nature of local wood construction: thick, solid, and unplanned. To preserve the wood, efforts were made to keep the elements ventilated and exposed to light and wind. Treated with a water-repellent product, the wood is prominently displayed on all facades.

Monreal House / SAA Arquitectura + Territorio - Image 9 of 26

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