Construido en en El Ranco Province, Chile. Imagenes por Guy Wenborne. El propósito de esta casa es construir un lugar de reunión. La obra surge como un encargo para diseñar una casa que sería ocupada como un lugar de descanso durante fines de semana, vacaciones. this family home by cazú zegers uses a series of curving walls to define the perimeter and sculptural interior.
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Poetics of the Territory Before tonight’s lecture at the MAXXI, the Chilean architect describes her work and process; based on the relationship between poetry and the South American territory, it introduces its own idiom.
Chilean architect Cazu Zegers has completed numerous projects and constructed several buildings in South America. Zegers’ architectural forms are generated by the relationship between poetry and architecture, with great attention paid to zegwrs relationships between ways of life, materials and construction. The name zegesr your design group A. What do you see as the key values in your design work?
During your career, to what extent have you been influenced by the idea of ciudad abierta conceived and promoted by Amereidaan association founded cxzu your Cqzu university? The two questions are complementary, because my architecture is born out of and is based on the Amereida concept.
The concept introduces the figure of a Christopher Columbus who, during the voyage that was to lead him to the Indies, saw the American continent, which “appeared” to him as a gift. Amereida considers the South American population as an imitator of Europe, and therefore underlines the need to make our own the cultural identity that belongs to us.
This way, the concept incites us to build, in this new territory, a language of forms that is longer the fruit of imitation. Cazu Zegers, Hotel del VientoPatagonia. My architecture, based on the relationship between poetry and the South American territory, is intended to introduce its own idiom.
This is why the book collecting my works is entitled Prototypes in the Territory. Today, I’m developing a new form of artistic-architectural work that Cazzu called the “invisible workshop”, referencing the invisibility of women artists in Chile.
Cazu Zegers [Recent Lecture]
It’s a new void within which we can create, like Malevich’s white on white. Your design work has heterogeneous and different scales of types and dimensions, from private dwellings, to large hotels and sacred buildings.
This heterogeneousness probably also reflects the varying landscapes and territories of Chile, from the Pacific Ocean coastline to the mountain areas and the valleys. I’m thinking in particular of the Hotel del Viento which sits poetically between land and sky, establishing a zeegers between the distant line of the horizon and human scale.
In tackling such a vast and powerful terrain, what are the inspirations and what are the difficulties? It’s that very territory that gives rise to both the difficulties and the inspirations. On the one hand, there is the inspiration offered by the poetic work that determines form and which derives from the natural elements present in the places in which we work; for example, in the case of the hotel, the poetic word spelt: Viento or WindHotel del Viento.
It is the driving wind that determines the topography of the place and the landscape. The form of the hotel borrowed this attribute from the surrounding territory, so as to unite with the landscape, without demystifying it. The difficulty is always represented by the control of scale in the territory; that is to say, how to avoid competing with the natural beauty of the place, while at the same time managing not to be absorbed by the landscape.
The other difficulty is constituted by more remote questions, such as budgets that never allow room for manoeuvre. The idea that guides my work in Chile is based on the fact that for a seismic southern country such as this —characterised by a territory in permanent friction, struck by earthquakes every ten years, with volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, “white earthquakes” and so on —, faced with a force as beautiful as it is catastrophic, our work has to be light and temporary, placing particular emphasis on low-tech with a high poetic charge.
I’ve invented a method named Thesis of the Territorywhich is the encounter between the poetic word and the territory, a place in which the equivalence between gesture and sign is produced, the embryo of a new creation. This equivalence between gesture and sign, according to Martin Heideggerinaugurates a “place” in space. He calls it the Regiona territory that, once named, becomes landscape and place in which life unfolds and on which is based the culture of a people.
This method allows me to tackle the diverse scales and types of design, acting as a common thread. Even today, while I was preparing my lecture, I realised that one always tends to follow a key idea. In my work I recognise three distinct phases: Workshop, and I devote myself to the Aperture works that invent an idiom; among them is Casa Calawhich I consider to be my thesis house. Workshop; development of the thesis of the territory.
I’ve invented a method named Thesis of the Territory, which is the encounter between the poetic word and the territory, a place in which the equivalence between gesture and sign is produced, the embryo of a new creation.
Among your projects there are many private dwellings.
Among these some are differentiated by a natural element to which attention is drawn, such as the Casa del Fuocothe Casa cazzu Aquathe Casa del Silenziothe Casa della Luna and the Casa Calafor which you received a prize at the Buenos Aires Biennale of Architecture in In this poetic vision attentive to the places of habitation, how important is your relationship with the client?
In what way is this translated in the design of domestic spaces? The figure of the client is fundamental because, as I said earlier, “the house is the construction of being”. Its form is also the form of the family that will inhabit zeers, and for this reason it becomes an ingredient of fundamental importance in the design phase.
Architecture is an art that develops in space and consequently is three-dimensional. I xegers that we women architects work in a field of “n” dimensions in which the senses play a role of indisputable importance. The work therefore becomes a focus of xegers relationships that respond to the client’s requirements in a poetic and original fashion.
In your design work, the choice of materials and techniques also reflects your point of view and different styles. Wood is the predominant material zzegers as in the Casa Taller Cubo at Kawelluco and the Casa Cala at Lago Ranco — and the traditional constructional techniques of Chilean carpenters make these spaces extremely natural and comfortable. Do you think the dialogue between tradition and the contemporary idiom can be an interesting and productive device for the architectural image?
Cauz architecture in wood reprises the vernacular models of construction with that same material, transforming them into contemporary works through a traditional process.
This is where their high poetic component comes from.
cazú zegers: whisper house in chile
The same is true of concrete; the recurrent curved forms I use are obtained through moulds made in very traditional ways. I usually employ local materials. The concrete used at Los Vilos derives from the fact that it was a house facing the sea and so maintenance was an issue that could not be ignored during the design phase.
Concrete is an honest material that I’m accustomed to working with in a certain way, without ever rendering or covering it. If the effect is ugly in a given context, I hammer it so as to obtain the effect of a structure in stone. Glass is the contemporary material par excellence ; it constitutes by its very nature the “absence of limits” and transforms buildings into, airy, light and transparent structures. It’s precisely this that interests me in architecture.
Chilean architect Cazu Zegers. In parallel with your design work you have always been involved in teaching, especially organizing numerous workshops and encounters with students. So you know the younger generations of designers, in particular the Chileans. What do you think are the main characteristics, trends and innovative aspects that distinguish the research of the youngest and most advanced Chilean architects? And among them, do any names in particular come to mind?
I believe that the relationship with the territory — and with the powerful landscape in which all we Chileans are immersed — is what makes us more open to contemplation and the poetic. As a teacher, my principal concern is to transmit this method of searching for originality, for a personal language of forms, the importance of not copying the most fashionable trends from developed countries. Every nation has its issues and the architect, the constructor of the world, has to know how to respond.
Anticipating what will come and reflecting in order to give the most appropriate response, without ever losing sight of the value inherent to the places in which they work. For example, in Chile there is a significant problem with earthquakes, destroying what little architectural heritage we have. Consequently, approaches such as building in an ephemeral fashion practically without leaving traces, or reconstructing without forcing the building to lose value, or making the landscape resonant so that it conserves the memory of what once existed is without doubt a path to be followed.
You need to understand that our greatest heritage is the territory and its landscapes.
Today more than ever, now that Chile is in a hurry to develop and the new mineral rush is populating the desert. Young architects have to work within these contexts. How can you marry art and industry?
It’s fine that there are hydroelectric plants, but it is crucial that around the table sit not just engineers and businessmen, but also landscape zegwrs and architects.
Are there any other opportunities for young designers to emerge and promote experimentation and architectural innovation in Chile? Yes, there are various architectural competitions for students organized by Chilean companies: Corma, a competition promoting construction in wood, and CAP, which does the same for steel.
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