54a388fbe58ece6c5a000064_holmes-fuentealba-house-francis-pfenniger_casa_yutuy_09The Lakes Region of Chile (Los Lagos) is bordered on the south by the River Region (Los Rios), on the east by the Andes, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. It’s technically an archipelago, though on a map it looks much more fjord-like. The forests are temperate rain forests; the rivers are the color of blue topaz; there are seven, designated national parks. To put it bluntly: This place is not short on natural beauty.

Chiloé, the largest island of the archipelago, was home to the indigenous Huilliche people long before the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. While today there are vibrant farming, ranching, and tourism industries, life in Chiloé has always been focused more toward the sea than terrestrial pursuits. The Fuentealba House, on the east-facing side of the island incorporates a small influence from each facet of this rich region.

The Fuentealba House was designed by architect Francis Pfenniger. In a nod to the ruins of the long-inhabited island, the exterior has a simplistic, single pitched roof line and is elevated on pillars. Nearly all of the exterior materials were repurposed from the nets, pallets, and galvanized steel from the owners’ commercial salmon fishing business. The aesthetic result is that of an “aged” building that blends right into the cultural history on the landscape.

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From pictures, it’s hard to believe that every window doesn’t offer an idyllic view to wake up to. But the architect insisted that the best views were to one side (presumably to the east toward the shadow of the Andes and Castro Canal), while the sun floods the interior from the other side (again, we’re guessing this is from the west, sometime after noon each day). Kudos to finding the perfect solution to this “troubling” design problem. Pfenniger slapped massive windows on three sides of the home and called it good. Well played.

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Photos by Carlos Hevia


Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

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