Helvetia Refuge by SAA Arquitectura + Territorio in Malalcahuello, Chile

Project: Helvetia Refuge
Architects: SAA Arquitectura + Territorio
Malalcahuello, Chile
1,270 sf
Year: 2023
Photographs by:
Esteban Arteaga

Helvetia Refuge by SAA Arquitectura + Territorio

Introducing the Mountain Refuge, a harmonious fusion of architecture and nature nestled in the woodlands of Malalcahuello, Chile. Designed to embrace the challenging terrain and abundant snowfall, this refuge stands as a testament to innovative engineering and organic design. Elevated from the ground, it forms a serene connection with the surrounding forest, offering panoramic views and an intimate bond with foliage.

Divided into three distinct areas, the refuge’s layout ingeniously balances living spaces and bedrooms, all linked by an interior circulation that invites natural light and serves as an atmospheric buffer. A terrace corridor seamlessly integrates the interior with the exterior, providing a picturesque backdrop for outdoor pursuits. With its skillfully designed roof and wood-clad exterior, the Mountain Refuge harmonizes with the towering trees, creating an architectural masterpiece that reveres its natural setting.

The commission consisted of a mountain refuge on a wooded terrain in the town of Malalcahuello, near the Corralco ski center, AraucanΓ­a region, southern Chile. Due to the moisture of the terrain, given the snowfall in winter of more than 80 cm in height, the structure was designed starting from a steel floor structure, and from there, the walls and roof were completely made of wood.

The general layout was defined based on a first visit to the terrain, in which the spatial properties of the forest and the slope were observed. The refuge proposes a distant relationship with the ground, rising 20 cm from the highest point of its location and balcony over the slope, directing the interior spaces towards the forest and the height of the foliage.

The architectural plan of the refuge is organized into three areas: the living and dining-kitchen rooms, facing west; and the bedrooms and bathrooms, facing east. As a third element and as an organizing space, the interior circulation that separates both programmatic batteries borders an exterior central void, which not only provides distance between spaces but also allows natural light to permeate all the programs that converge in it. Around its southern axis, and along the entire length of the circulation hallway, a skylight breaks through the level of the roof to reach the angle of the winter northern sunlight.

A terrace corridor runs along the north, west, and south sides of the refuge, connecting the programs and spaces on the exterior and acting as an intermediate space for activities that take place in the western area of the refuge, where it intersects with a walkway that ends in a hot tub.

The square roof plan is designed with 4 slopes and a wide zinc covering for proper snow melting control. Externally, the house is clad in vertically installed irregular surface wooden boards to improve water drainage. This decision results in an image that relates to the vertical linearity of the trees present in the location.

SAA Arquitectura + Territorio


Tags: Chile, contemporary, exterior, interior, Malalcahuello, modern, nature, SAA Arquitectura + Territorio

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