The Casa Till is a feat of engineering. Looking down on the Pacific Ocean 100 metres below, seemingly all alone in a conspicuously craggy cliff-side setting, the location is truly awe-inspiring.
According to WMR Arquitectos, the Santiago, Chile-based architecture studio who built the contemporary style home, its location in a remote part of Navidad, Chile, is one where buildings have never existed. Indeed, access to the beach below is only made through difficult sea paths made many centuries ago.
Flatness is an underlying theme of this design. Amid such historically inhospitable surroundings, WMR have made an emphatic statement by plonking a neat steel box right on the cliff edge. In so doing, the harsh cliff-side terrain on which the home sits is rendered almost inconsequential. And besides the bombastic statement it makes in its own right, such a flattening-out allows for magnificent views out onto the sea.
Another pleasing characteristic of this contemporary house is that it makes maximum use of a small amount of space. In this, it calls to mind two other houses we reviewed recently, one in Washington, United States, the other in Aldeia da Serra in Brazil.
In each home, the clever use of space is particularly evident in the repurposing of the roof as an extra floor. This design feature is a classic element of some of the earliest modern style homes, which really elevated the flat roof to a central position in the modernist design lexicon. Indeed, as Le Corbusier emphasized in his famous “Five Points”, a flat roof is an extremely effective way of extending the home into the outdoors.
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For this present house, a set of wooden stairs lead up to a bridge, which gives access to the roof. We would like to see a bit more furnishing on what is currently an empty deck. Especially since, as Le Corbusier stipulated, this rooftop should be a space for nature. That said, this is certainly made up for with the amazing views of the immense sea beyond.
Continuing the discussion of the design’s flexibility, the roof of the main floor also extends way beyond the indoor area. This has the result of providing a vast space in which to enjoy the outdoors even on the rainiest of days.
The home also boasts some excellent pieces of mid-century modern furniture, the centrepiece being a complete set of Isamu Noguchi’s most famous furniture designs: the IN-50 coffee table and the Freeform Sofa with accompanying Ottoman.
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A conspicuously soft and simple design, the IN-50’s glass top is reminiscent of the Space Age style that was all the rage later in the period. Meanwhile, like a pair of pebbles meeting momentarily on a sandy beach, the sofa and Ottoman achieve a smoothness so inviting you want to reach out and grab them. It’s really nice to see them all together in a setting such as this.
According to WMR, their main goal in design is “to achieve the greatest spatial synthesis, with a balance of tension and scale with place, light and vernacular materials”. They have really outdone themselves in the case of Casa Till.