architect: Pezo von Ellrichshausen
location: Cumbres, Chile
In the middle of a recently populated suburban area which could be anywhere, this house for a couple of engineers and their two children has a square floor plan divided into asymmetrical quadrants that spiral up to a height of four storeys. Four steps (which add 70 cm in height) separate one quadrant from the next. Installed at the intersection of the habitable walls that divide the interior is a spiral staircase with a central stairwell, regular steps and no landings. To move between one enclosed space and the next there are two routes: the stairs, which function as a diagonal short cut that intersects the corners, and another gentler one that connects the centers of each enclosed space. In total there are twelve platforms at different levels, in which a rotation of 360 degrees is equivalent to a whole floor. The ascending sequence establishes varying degrees of intimacy and proximity between the different domestic functions, which extend from the kitchen or a couple of dining rooms at the ground level to the bedrooms or the study in the top part of the house. This stratification leads to the activation of certain rooms according to the time of day and a sort of family interaction throughout the central void.
Except for the base, which contains the earth of the back garden, this wooden house is supported on the central staircase, a robust entity of folded slabs and four reinforced concrete columns that rise through the entire height of the volume. At its base, the center of the staircase coincides with the diagonal entrance to the house. The massive presence of this composite, disproportionate column is contained by an almost provisional scaffolding of beams and columns of treated wood faced with paneling on both sides. The outer façade is lined with a ventilated sheet of boards and lightly framed glass panels.