PEZO VON ELLRICHSHAUSEN BRING THEIR LYRICISM BEYOND CHILE
Dotted among the trees on a gently rolling hill in the heart of Catalonia’s Els Ports National Park, two-and-a-half hours south of Barcelona, is Solo Houses, an ambitious series of a dozen or so holiday homes financed by Christian Bourdais. To realize his vision, the French entrepreneur and architecture enthusiast commissioned emerging architecture firms from all over the world, including OFFICE KGDVS from Brussels, Tatiana Bilbao from Mexico City, MOS from New York, Johnston Marklee from Los Angeles, as well as Sou Fujimoto and TNA from Tokyo. In December last year the husband-and-wife architecture team Pezo von Ellrichshausen were the first to see their design finished, a building that is also their first permanent structure outside their native Chile.
Perched up on a central base, Solo Pezo cantilevers out on every side so that from a distance it appears like a square concrete UFO floating above the treetops. Visitors arrive at the house via a bifurcating stairway embedded in the mountain, before climbing the spiral staircase in its base which deposits them in the building’s square courtyard above — at the center of which a pool dramatically imposes itself against a panoramic view of the landscape. “The whole house is a perfectly symmetrical system of rooms, organized around a void,” explains Sofia von Ellrichshausen. “The only way to occupy the center of this system is to be in water. It’s a very elusive condition.”
Pezo von Ellrichshausen are experts in finding poetic architectural solutions for remote locations. Rather than working from Chile’s capital Santiago, the couple based their office in the small city of Concepción, 300 miles south, where they have made a name for themselves with residential commissions in semi-rural settings. Their most famous project is the Casa Poli (2005), a cubic holiday home dramatically perched on the cliffs of the Coliumo Peninsula. It won them many international accolades, including, most recently, the 2014 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for Emerging Architects. But not only are the Casa Poli and Solo Pezo perfect examples of Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s architectural lyricism, they also demonstrate their keen understanding of context and site. Their houses never look in on themselves, but are devices for seeing the world. In the words of Mauricio Pezo, “When you have surroundings composed of neutral elements that are very simple, very silent, very normal in a way, it allows the individual to look beyond them and to focus on other, more important things.”