Designed by architect Pablo Saric as his coastal family retreat and built almost entirely from clean-lined glass, wood and concrete, this ultra-minimalist monochrome home makes a dramatic statement yet sits comfortably among the elements.
Photography by CristĂłbal Palma
Dissolving the physical barriers between nature and architecture, renowned architect Pablo Saricâs coastal home pays homage to the rugged and wild landscape that surrounds it. âIt is a place with extraordinarily little rain, so native cactus and low-lying plants make up the vegetation,â says Saric, who designed âCasa SSâ for his family.
Perched high on a clifftop in the small Chilean coastal town of HuentelauquĂ©n, lying 270 kilometres north of Santiago, a sun-drenched climate and strong southwesterly winds expose the home to a striking and harsh environment. It was these elements that ultimately dictated its architecture, from the initial design down to the choice of materials, explains Saric. âThe landscape is the protagonist and the homeâs relationship with it is very important.â
Towering wooden walls create shelter from the wind, with the central courtyard blending simplicity and functionality in a protective space. âThe patio is very important because it allows the layout to be extended for a variety of purposes, be that relaxing in a hammock or as an area for children to play in,â says Saric. At the heart of the home lies the living area. Clean-cut glass doors open up to welcome the outside in, transforming the interior space into a free-flowing open terrace. âThe white wooden floor runs from the inside out, strengthening the connection of these spaces,â says Saric.
A reduced palette of materials made up mostly of wood and concrete sees simplicity and minimalism take centre stage. âWe wanted to avoid a lot of visual clutter. The exterior cladding and interior panelling is designed to disappear into one continuous line,â he says. The remoteness of the location demanded clever and sustainable design solutions. Cross vents help cool the space down during hot, summer days, while insulated panels reduce the amount of heat that can escape during winter. Water is a scarce resource, so grey water is repurposed to irrigate the gardens, while solar panels power the entire house.
As evening sets in, sunlight beams into the patio, with the indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pit warming the space so it can remain open. Far away from the busy city streets, the low light pollution affords world-class stargazing, a special feature of the location that guided many of Saric’s design decisions.
âThe house opens straight out to the sea and can be closed on all other sides to avoid any light pollution,â he says of his efforts to preserve the perfect stargazing conditions. âOn moonless nights, you can see the stars without difficulty.â