The Perfect Balance of Guna House by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Like a grand concrete monolith being elevated out from the steep hillside, Guna House in Llacolen, Chile, is a private residence designed by Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen from architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Completed in 2014, the narrow plot of land of this 410 square meter home and its location between a wood of eucalyptus trees and the bay of a small lagoon, dictated the entire, inventive design process as well as its outcome.

In a successful attempt to balance off the diagonal sweep of the land, the larger of the structures two square floors – measuring 20 meters on each side – rests atop the smaller — measuring 8.5 meters on each side. The resulting feeling of equilibrium is as much the product of perfect proportions as it is a play on the viewer’s eyesight, for the majority of the upper floor’s square footage appears to basically be suspended in mid-air.  

In truth, the upper floor is designed around a central outdoor patio which is the same size as the ground floor below it, and is planned around a “grid of four modules per side,” as the architects describe it. The result is that all rooms on this floor are exposed to the outdoors on all four sides, bringing in the light and fresh, eucalyptus-scented air.

Geometric perfection also plays a leading role in the ground floor. Although it too is divided into “found equal quadrants,” the north quadrant is “cut back” creating a harmonious entrance into the house from the lagoon and garden, leading up a flight of heavy concrete stairs – inventively built into the corner – to the upper floor’s outdoor patio.

Inside, the same sparse and heavily minimal design elements develop, with a long hallway wrapping around the upper courtyard and leading to the rooms off of it. This is further mirrored in the façade which was created by thin wood formwork boards that were used during the casting of the concrete, infusing the building’s veneer with a coarse “woodsy” texture as well as a seemingly weather-beaten black patina.

All in all, Guna House is the type of architectural specimen that causes double takes as viewers wonder at the genius behind its balance, as well as at the simplicity sheathing its complex design.

 

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