Defying the windy climate of Rocas Santo Domingo, Chile, the Rock House was designed by UN Arquitectura as a sturdy beach resort, perfect for summer family getaways. The exterior of the residence showcases an intriguing junction of shapes and volumes, inspiring soberness due to the color choice and functionality, as the result of the materials used. Concrete and wood were employed to divide the levels of the house visually, this design approach also providing the project with a strong personality.
Structured on two levels, the Rock House accommodates the public areas on the first level, while the upper floor hosts the bedrooms. Defined by extensive use of wood and generous windows throughout, the interiors give away a sense of warmth, somewhat contrasting the seriousness inspired by the main facade. Well picked furniture items and subtle color additions are also elements that contribute to the overall welcoming feel. The entire residence seems to orbit around a central patio, providing a privileged green space for the inhabitants. What’s a holiday without spending quality times outdoors listening to the sounds of the waves anyway?
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests