PHOTOGRAPHY DANIELE MAC ADDEN | TEXT MARCELA VILLARAZO | STYLING MARIANA RAPOPORT
A few metres the Uruguayan coast near Punta del Este, this house stands alone, subtly but definitely dominating the landscape: it seems to naturally detach itself from the mountain and conquer the landscapes extending on behind the other towards the horizon. This special effect could only be imagined and attained by Edgardo Minond, an Argentinean architect for whom aesthetics and the nobleness of the project go hand in hand.
Nature imposed itself as the main referent in the design and the building of the project. The plot of land stretches over 20 hectares on top of a hill at a height of 220 metres above sea level. When architect Minond visited the area for the first time there was no road leading to the hill, there was no drainage or drinking water supply (boreholes had to be drilled to a dpeth of up to 70 metres), nor was there any electric lighting. All he found there was the white and greyish stone typical of the area, some bushes and tall thickets, and, as it is the case in the deserted paths close to the sea, a lot of wind, plenty of natural lighting and little shade. However, the wildness of the landscape would soon show its captivating side.
A lagoon a few metres away and the possibility of having a 360° panorama of the scenery are almost unique elements for an experienced architect. Directed by Uruguayan Rodolfo Asconeguy, the building work this involved, from the building of the path to the site to the interior decoration (which has been in the hands of architect Margarita Descole, from Minond studio), lasted for a year and eight months. For Edgardo Minond’s firm it was important to reflect in the design of the house the special relationship with the environment in which it was built, as well as the modification of the landscape, with the architecture as its starting point. And that is the best way to fully appreciate the different components of the house, whose relation to the context is diverse and independent.
The complex, with a footprint of 800 square metres, comprises three parts: the main house, a house for the custodian that includes machine room, boiler, store room, laundry room with a service volume, and the guest house, and finally – featuring prominently – the swimming-pool.
The main house is a volume built on the highest part of the hill. It has been designed to enable visitors to appreciate the landscape and the views. Taking that as his brief, Minond planned with millimetric precision the location and size of each window, the placement the panes and doors and the orientation of the volumes. As a result, the three-bedroom house affords a view of the landscape framed by the terrace roof or the openings of the windows, as if it were a photograph or a landscape painting. The swimming-pool is literally a concrete line that irreverently places itself upon nature. Its dimensions, at the client’s request, are extraordinary (25 metres by 2.5 metres). The concrete parallelepiped is perpendicular to the slope and consequently seems to project into the emptiness, towards the horizon. The effect is reinforced by the pool’s ‘infinite edge’ that creates the visual image of the water blending with the sky. Seen at night, suspended in the air and lit up, it looks like an unfinished highway at variance with and imposing itself upon the surroundings, captivating everything and everyone.
The architect Minond possesses the sensitivity of someone who combines ingenuity, agility and skill. He has the talent to express himself through the work he most enjoys. In his studio located in Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires, some of his drawings are hung. One, on the right of the entrance, is particularly striking. It portrays a street in New York. The drawing, which has been published in the book Nueva York Minimalista (Minimalist New York), shows the versatility of the architect, for whom drawing, photography and architecture overlap creating layers that result in magnificent buildings and designs. Layers combined and overlapped with the aid of state-of-the-art technology.
Minond is talented, but clever too, knowing where and when to put the keystone that will eventually evolve into a building. He began his career in 1975 and has since mostly freelanced at his own studio, while standing out for his ability to work together with other architects – his professional link to Chilean Mathias Klotz is well-known: they worked together on María Cher’s flagship store and together remodelled an old building for Turner International.
These two projects are further examples of the architect’s versatility: he always takes a good look at the spaces on which he works, while admitting he is flexible when the time comes to plan all kinds of designs. His flexibility is also apparent in the works that have marked his career so far. They range from a school for deaf and dumb girls in Floresta (having entered the competition opened in 1984 ad being selected by the Ministry of Education) to the refurbishment of a 40th-floor apartment beside the MOMA in New York, as well as the design of the provincial government building in Córdoba, the refurbishment of an old chocolate factory that today is a block of flats, and the house in Punta del Este featured here.