Pezo von Ellrichshausen create stunning Architecture: Here´s Why

Unless you´ve been living under a rock for the last two decades, you have probably heard about the architect duo Pezo von Ellrichshausen. I have first heard about them in my first year at architecture school and wanted to dive deeper into this topic. In this article, you will find out what you should know about them and why their work is important.

The architecture auf the Chilean duo Pezo von Ellrichshausen is exceptional, from the design process, over their spatial qualities to their design philosophy. What they produce is honest, geometric and of value. They mostly build small residential buildings and pavilions for expositions. Their creations are authentic, don´t allude to anything, and, perhaps most importantly, enhance and improve the human experience.

What buildings does Pezo von Ellrichshausen create?

For the most part, the duo builds small residential buildings, often near the coast, but usually in a great landscape. They personally don´t care about the size of their building, as they know that what is ultimately important to successful architecture is a quality that can´t be expressed in numbers.

To make it easier for you (and myself) to understand their work, I have created a timeline with pictograms to give an overview over what projects they have done over the years. For this post, I will briefly showcase three of the most interesting projects of them and try to break down their qualities for you in short.

This timeline gives an overvview over the major projects that can be read about online. I don´t guarantee for this to be a complete list of all the work they have created, but if you notice a project is missing, feel free to reach out to me and I´ll add it.

casa poli

This must have been the work which has made them famous. It is an apparently monolithic cube of concrete that mirrors the roughness of the pacific that is roaring against the coast beneath it. Inside, the complexity of the spatial relations is baffling. Different rooms seem to diverge from one to the next without strict divisions in between. Functional rooms are hidden in the thick outer wall. This is a very interesting and innovative fact to their work: The inhabitable wall. They hide circulation and utility rooms in the wall and reduce their footprint to a minimum so as to not disturb the experience of the other rooms. If you are interested in the experience of this house in particular, check out this Essay by the Finish architect Juhani Pallasmaa.

casa Solo

This house is part of the Series of vacation houses in Spain by notable young architects. It is a monolithic structure, resting on a smaller podium that can´t be seen from afar due to the foliage. After entering the structure through stairs hidden in this podium, one reaches a patio with a pool and is surrounded by the rooms of the house. On each of the corners, the ring of space opens to create a connection with the outside. All glass panels are removable so every angle of the landscape can be experienced. As mentioned for Casa Poli, Pezo von Ellrichshausen often use the inhabitable wall to hide baths and circulation. The same is true for this house, where the functional rooms seem to be unnoticeable between the patio and the perimeter ring of spaces.

Bell Pavilion

This is a space built to document a fragile installation of Christian Boltanski in the Atacama Desert. The work of art is recorded and projected on the wall of this pavilion, more than 10.000 kilometers away in Paris. The structure is made up of two cylinders with different radii and two sloping extensions that form the entrance and exit. The rough red concrete of the structure echoes the color of the distant place where the installation was recorded.

What view does Pezo von Ellrichshausen have on Inspiration?

The duo, when designing, tries to leave outer inspiration and references aside. While they have certainly studied the past and present masters of architecture, they refuse to look at precedents or images while designing. The world is full of quotes to different buildings in history and they don´t want to jump on that train. Their goal with each project is to create an architectonic object, that refers exclusively to itself.

How does Pezo von Ellrichshausen build in context?

Context plays a big role in architecture and so, too, does Pezo von Ellrichshausen think about different ways of relating their space to its surrounding. Their goal is to design a room proportional to its views so as to make that experience of the landscape more intense.

Regarding existing surrounding structures, Pezo von Ellrichshausen don’t see an obligation to use them as a measure for their own design, especially when the neighborhood is banal and displeasing. In the case of the Casa Gago, they see the structure as a correction of the existing building, though it was never intended as a criticism of the neighborhood.

What does the workflow of Pezo von Ellrichshausen look like?

When starting a project, Pezo von Ellrichshausen try to establish a spatial structure that has certain relationships between different rooms. They mostly care about the proportions of space relative to each other, and tackle things like the façade later in the process.

For developing space, they use physical models and axonometrics, but no perspective drawings as they argue an axonometric lets them better see the connection of the building to its surroundings.

In this stage of the design process, they seem produce an abundance of colorful, vibrant paintings of axonometrics. They state that this is their means to bring the artistic aspect of their profession into play. When asked about why they use such a colorful palette, they say that once the building is done, the walls won´t look dull and grey but are influenced by lighting and other factors that give it color. In this sense, I think the color help bring out the emotion of what the space will feel like, not only look like.

Their time spent on a given project may be a year for the planning and a year for construction.

How does Pezo von Ellrichshausen use materials?

As you have seen from the three buildings featured above, the architects like using concrete in may of their works. This has to do with the fact that earthquakes are very common in chile so reinforced concrete allows them to build something that resists those forces. In this sense, the concrete conveys a sense of rest and inertia, grounding the inhabitant of the building.

Generally speaking, they don´t think the material they use necessarily defines the quality of their architecture. They believe that the space and character of their houses would remain largely the same when built with different materials. The pragmatic aspect of these materials seems to be the key factor in their decision.

Concrete is often perceived as cold and grey. They share a different opinion on it. In their works, the contrast of the stone like texture of the concrete to the lush green vegetation of many sites make the concrete appear welcoming and warm.

Except concrete, they love using wood, too. Not only for forming the mould of the negative for the concrete, but also to build the house entirely out of wood or a combination of the two.

They like the fact that these materials are not industrially processed and appear manmade. In this sense, the concrete and wood are a record of human labor with all its imperfections and texture.

What makes the work of Pezo von Ellrichshausen special?

The inhabitable wall is a key characteristic of their works. This might be what has made them so popular.

When looking at their works on a timeline, it is evident that in their early works, they often used the proportions 1:1 for windows, for example. These are later more often supplemented by the ratio 1:2. This simplicity in proportion conveys a sense of familiarity and normality. They don´t believe that excessive variety is necessarily a good thing, even if society always loves novelty. In this sense, they find a beauty in the honest qualities and impressions of the basic forms.

The houses of Pezo von Ellrichshausen might look similar on the surface, but they all have different ideas built into the floor plans which are passionately proportioned and beautifully executed which certainly justifies their popularity and success.

If you have found this article helpful and would like to learn more about architecture and proportion, check out this article about Andrea Palladio I have on my website, I promise - you won´t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading

~ Julian

Share This Post

Post Navigation

related Posts