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BAK arquitectos - Concrete House, in Mar Azul, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 10:34

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Within the next few months, we will be featuring several houses from talented Argentinean architecture firm named BAK arquitectos. Most of these houses share the same geographical location, located in Mar Azul, a seaside town at 400km south of Buenos Aires, characterized by its large dune beach and his leafy coniferous forest. The architecture stems from the same concerns, focusing on a low budget, a reduced impact on the surrounding site, low maintenance houses with a short time of construction.

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner





For BAK, operating in a forest environment meant taking a back step to nature preservation and proposing an alternative to the prevailing practice of developers maximizing the usage on their land. BAK’s intention was to guarantee the survival of the natural environment; producing architecture with the least amount of building material, that impacts the smallest possible footprint.

Minimalism transcends its aesthetics value and becomes a principle for the frugal land use, incorporating the house to the landscape and making it look as part of the reality that already exists. As BAK explained their approach to make the integration possible, they had to learn “how to listen” to what the sites is revealing. Freeing themselves from old preconceived ideas, they wanted to capture not only the tangible data, but also the atmosphere that emanates from the place; to discover the site’s perceptual identity.




Looking at the landscape and analyzing the microclimate that the forest provides, interesting attributed emerged, like the attenuation of the strong sea winds, the constant shadow of the trees protecting from the hot weather in the summer, but at the same time, producing a humid environment in winter. Sunlight is scarce under the pine trees.  Through that process, the architects acquired a respect for the forest; a self-sustaining environment that does not require maintenance except for the removal of dry vegetation.

Recognizing the particularities of microclimate was determinant to make choices in the aesthetic and constructive system of the house. It was necessary to gain natural light by using large fenestration that allowed for great views towards the sea and forest, while the use of reflective glass mirrored the landscape and helped in the integration of the house within its surroundings.

Reinforced concrete is a durable low-maintenance material that helps in speeding up the construction. The shadow provided by the forest trees allows us to use this material because it provides thermal protection from the spring to the autumn. Protection against the winter climate was not relevant because it is a Summer House.




The esthetic attributes of reinforced concrete compliment its qualities as a resistant and waterproof material. Using it as a surface finish helped in lowering construction budget while avoiding future maintenance. The texture of the concrete made by wooden formwork allows for further integration of the work within the landscape.

The architects kept his intervention outside the houses walls to a minimum, by respect to the strong homogeneity in the forest, made by coniferous, acacias, and some high grassland that are the dominant vegetation in the dunes zone near the sea.





For this particular house, the owners, has chosen a site in the forest with a challenging topography, away from the sea, to construct a cottage. Adhering to the principles that we described, the house was designed as a concrete prism with extended proportions and minimum height. It is located on a small plateau within a diagonally sloping site (a level difference of 6m between opposite corners). Positioned this way, the site’s topography remains intact.

Viewed from the bordering fields, only the house’s ceiling of the house gets to be visible, covered by dry foliage of the pines. When looking more closely, the house appears half-buried, emerging out from one of its corners, displaying two articulated façades, with its foundations exposed.

The house’s main spaces are organized along the opened Northwest façade. Bathrooms and kitchen are set against the opposite sunken side. Outdoor garage, barbecue and sunbathing deck, outdoor shower, and all the other outer activities were implemented within the existing topography of the place.




The house is a reinforced rectangular concrete slab (6.90m x 14m) resting, from three sides, on the peripheral structural walls.  The joins between walls and floor were solved with an aluminum cross section to the skirting board. The openings are of dark bronze anodized aluminum.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 26 May 2011 10:53
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