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‘We don’t "design" buildings, because we don’t like the idea of design’

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Ann-Marie Corvin interviews Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen

It’s great that architecture is such a present form, such a part of everyday life. But we think the main objective of this exhibition is to invite visitors to become aware of the more subtle things in architecture, like light and space, and how your body reacts to architecture.

We don’t ‘design’ buildings, because we don’t like the idea of design. Normally designers make a great big flashy flower pot, when the most important thing is the flower. In deciding what form a structure should take we have several discussions before even drawing a line. It’s about trying to understand all the dimensions involved: conceptual, physical, the geometries, the possibilities. It’s only at that point that we try to establish a structure or think about the type of materials.

We are best known for our houses - the Poli House (2005), built on a cliff edge at the Coliumo peninsula, and our own home and studio, Cien, in Concepción (2011). The most important thing we consider when working on houses is: how can a domestic place help you understand the world in a specific manner, and at the same time, be invisible? How can you create a place where you feel well - not in a passive, relaxed way, but in a way that actively engages you physically and mentally through space, light, sequences and proportions?

In this case we thought there was a scale to the existing room that was worth highlighting. There is the horizontal scale, which is why we decided to only occupy half the room - allowing the other half to remain empty makes you very aware of its size. This also serves to create a sense of exterior within the room, because you have an object with a context around it, so it becomes more of a landscape for architectural intervention.

We have also created a vertical dimension, which is to recognise one area of the room - the columns - as a constant: nothing happens here. But then the visitor ascends into this other aerial world - a place where nobody ever goes.

Up on this platform - we think of it as more of a room than a platform - you can see that it blends in with the ceiling. And that is part of the character of this room; its size but also those ceilings, with the rooflight and period details.

And then there is the very human experience of going through the structure. The way you touch things, the way you grab on to a rail, or the way you can peek through the slits in the corners of the room, admiring the cornicing or coming face to face with the angels.

  • Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen were interviewed by Ann-Marie Corvin
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