KVS House is a private residence situated in La Costa Partido, Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was finished by Estudio Galera in 2013. The lot is situated in Costa Esmeralda, a new private venture in Costa County. A small pine grove at the front of the site, and a steep slope down from the street to the back of the lot. A simple but paramount commission: to focus the program on the smallest portion of the lot as possible, since most of the natural landscape of the lot wants to be preserved. A vacation home thought for a family that wants to use the house for a variety of purposes, such as getting together and enjoying open air activities.
The program is centered around two boxes stacked, skewed, balancing each other on top of a half buried stone plinth. As a result, the program takes less than twelve percent of the lot, leaving enough space for a swimming pool and a green dune –part of the landscape.
The activities were distributed according to the users’ needs. In the partially buried plinth, we find the main entrance to the house, a bedroom, a bathroom, a laundry room and the playroom which opens to the rear facade directly connecting the inside with the outside. The walls which separate the playroom from the access circulation do not touch the ceiling; as a result, the sun brings natural light into this level which is partially underground.
Upstairs, overhanging over the building site, there is the social box: a concrete box open at it lengths and supported on its ends. Forest views at its front facade, and a garden which dissolves into the acacias trees at the rear facade. Kitchen, dining room and living room open to the exterior to integrate with the deck, the swimming pool, and the garden.
An interior-exterior volume contains the service area, a barbecue grill, machines room, and a toilette. This wedge-shape volume protects the barbecue grill and outside gathering area from the southern winds. A wooden pergola contains the space and offers protection from the sun. The upper floor shelters three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and offers views of the forest.
The boxes are displaced, extending the general volume of the house to the maximum allowed by the side setbacks; thus, generating a semi-covered garage, protecting the ground floor and creating spaces where shades mutate permanently.
These volumes were placed according to the functional requirements of the program and the structural needs –not quite rational in this case, since the structural loads travel the longest distance before resting on the bases. The boxes balance each other and a one-meter-tall wall is the only visible support in the living room floor. The structure is in full view: concrete walls, slabs and four longitudinal beams. Two laid-upon boxes resting on a stone plinth.
As regards to the materials, the house is defined as two exposed concrete boxes form worked with 1” planks for concrete walls and beams, and laminated plywood for the slabs.
The harshness of the climate in the Argentine coast, forces us to think of different ways to lessen the thermal and hydrothermal transmittance of concrete.
An air chamber with a subsequent interior hollow brick veneer or plasterboard coating was dismissed. Furthermore, the concrete had to be seen from the inside as well as from the outside, so we decided to pour the walls while leaving a high density expanded polystyrene core, thus choosing the easiest and cheapest way of insulating. The concrete pouring of the walls was done at once, with the expanded polystyrene sheets within them, keeping them in place, and adding to the structure.
The fenestration is made of aluminum with a double glazed air chamber. The contact between the house and the natural lot is established through an isolated stone veneered wall. The materials were chosen for their nobility, good aging and durability.