If one thinks about Latin-American architecture, the first thing to immediately come into mind is the expressive use of concrete. The recently deceased Argentinian architect, Clorindo Testa should always be mentioned amongst the greatest masters of the material. Argentinian architecture is obviously far more than Testa’s constant search for identity and affiliation of bulky, strong forms.
Concrete however, upholds a strong position in Argentina to this very day.
Contemporary architects like Diego Arraigada, the Moscato-Schere studio, Mónica Bertolino and Carlos Barrado or Lucio Morini are known from its deliberate but free use not only as a structural material but also as a way of expression, a decisive element of an architectural vocabulary.
In the forest of the small coastal settlement of Mar Azul, Buenos Aires Province, Casa BB was planned by two talented and successful Argentinian architects, María Victoria Besonías and Luciano Kruk, who at the time were working together at BAK Arquitectos. Since then their ways departed, and Concretedesignblog is grateful to Luciano Kruk for providing us photos about Casa BB. The architects have completed several villas and family houses before. In this case, the client requested a proposal aesthetically similar to the other houses built by the studio in Mar Azul.
The Museo de Arquitectura y Diseño in Buenos Aires recently organized an exhibition, “5×4: twenty houses in the Argentine territory”, which dealt with the relationship between living spaces and landscapes.
BB House was amongst the 20 chosen buildings.
No wonder: just have a look at the carefully planned location of the building, amongst the pine-trees of the hillside. The 20×30 m plot is located between two streets, the house is planted on the higher part, so it is less exposed for the street, and from the inside the landscape becomes enjoyable, above the neighboring buildings.
The client required a three-bedroom house, not bigger than 120 square meters, designed to be used not only in summer but on several occasions throughout the year. The need for a generously sized main bedroom was particularly important, with a private bathroom and a certain independence from the rest of the house. The other two bedrooms could share a bath and have a minimal surface, so as to give the social area as much space as possible. The kitchen, as a very important space for the client, should be fully integrated into this area; the need for possible outdoor expansions was especially highlighted. It was also required a deposit for storing of different elements for beach sports.
At first the architects wanted to test new textures of concrete, even adding pigments, but all these procedures appeared to contradict their posture of a rather austere architecture. The solution came by chance when they noticed that in the process of producing works of exposed concrete, there is an important leftover of wooden planks used to make the formwork. To take advantage of every available resources, reusing these planks seemed to be beneficial for the execution of some wooden walls. This is how they started to rethink the project and replacing some exterior and interior concrete walls with partitions of tables and wooden structure.
Using a stairway hidden in the dune’s natural slope, the volume is accessed through a main terrace that develops along the longest side, so that by opening the sliding carpentry, full integration is achieved between inside and outside. In this housing sector, the package formed by the household and shared bathroom separates the social zone from the two small “bedroom cabin” and marks the beginning of the soft descending stairway leading to the main bedroom in a very quiet situation. It is also possible to go outside through a small terrace that, along with the stairs, links the two volumes which form the house. Under the main bedroom is located the water tank with access from one of the streets.
The outdoor activities were situated as “scatter on the ground” so that their impact is as small as possible.
Thus a grill and a concrete table and benches at the top of the lot were proposed with views of the environment and, in the lower zone, shower facilities in the manner of sculptural object.
The house is constructed with three basic materials: exposed concrete, glass and pine wood panels and beams. The exterior walls made from this material were protected with burned oil. This seemed the most appropriate finish to facilitate maintenance of the pinewood and to harmonize with the colors of the forest.
The slabs of the different partitions and volumes are supported using concrete beams and are finished with a minimum slope in order to produce a faster runoff of rainwater. H21 concrete was used with the addition of a fluidifiant so that this mixture, with little amount of water to harden, results very compact and does not require sealing. The few interior walls of hollow bricks are finished in concrete screed; floor cloths are also from concrete screed divided with aluminum plates. The openings are of dark bronze anodized aluminum. The heating system, since there is no natural gas in the area, was solved with a system that combines a fireplace, bottled gas stoves and electric stoves.
Photographs: Luciano Kruk Architects