Alejandro Aravena’s brutal beach house is for sale

Like to slip off your office gear and gaze into a fire at weekends? Got $1.5m? This place could be right for you
The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental
The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental

When in 2013, the Pritzker laureate architect Alejandro Aravena was asked to create a weekend home for a successful Chilean property developer, he made one, astute assumption. "If during the week a guy has to wear a tie, it is very likely that on weekends he wears shorts and walks barefoot,” Aravena writes in his book, Elemental, which details works undertaken by his ground-breaking architectural practice of the same name.

Though they assumed the client would like to kick back and go native, Aravena’s practice was keen to avoid any meddling. “We accepted this project on the condition that it would be only us deciding in which direction to push the boundaries,” Aravena writes.


The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental, as reproduced in Elemental
The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental, as reproduced in Elemental

Keeping that inner, barefoot caveman as their model, Aravena’s practice decided to create a building that was at once modern and prehistoric. Aravena and his partners “chose to move backwards towards the archaic, not as a nostalgic escape but as a natural filter against the clichés of innovation,” he writes. “In an era when the hunger for novelty is threatening to make architecture become immediately obsolete, we looked for timelessness.”

Drawing on the bracing environment of the house's coastline plot, where, as Aravena says “the Pacific Ocean is not pacific at all,” he and his Elemental colleagues put together a primitive yet challenging dwelling, Ocho Quebradas House, formed from three timber and concrete boxes.



Alejandro Aravena  of Elemental in the Phaidon office
Alejandro Aravena of Elemental in the Phaidon office

One of these boxes poked out over the cliff, and held all the space and utilities a couple might need. Another vertical one packed in all the other rooms the developer required. The third was a little more basic. It featured a fire pit, writes Aravena, "not a chimney, which is something civilized, but a fire, which is one of the most revolutionary yet oldest achievements of mankind.

Let's hope the cinders don't fly too far, given the building's material. “Five sides of the volumes are made of poured concrete," writes Aravena, "the sixth one is made out of the same wood used for the formwork for the concrete. We expect these pieces to age like stone, acquiring some of the brutality of the place but remaining gentle, a place for people to enjoy nature and life in general.”


The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental. Image courtesy of Sotheby's
The Ocho Quebradas House by Elemental. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Now that enjoyment can be passed onto another well-heeled weekend caveman; Sotheby's Realty is selling the Ocho Quebradas House, which has an asking price of $1.5m. Interested? Find out a bit more about the man behind the building first, by buying a copy of Elemental by Alejandro Aravena.



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