A Tango With Mid-Century
Mario López-Cordero -- Interior Design, 2/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Flexibility—that most modern of design imperatives—can be a particularly keen concern for a new family investing in a home: The expectation of growth requires a resourceful approach. However, versatility was merely one of several factors that mattered most to a young family that commissioned Martín Facundo Cinquegrani to build a house in the suburb of Parque Leloir, about 30 minutes from Buenos Aires.
A travel executive and a painter, the couple envisioned a house that would both respect and take full advantage of the surrounding wooded property. So Facundo made sure to uproot no trees during construction; one was even incorporated into the structure of a balcony. And every window affords a bucolic view.
Facundo built the airy 1,600-square-foot house from simple materials, mostly polished concrete, copper-toned tropical viraro wood, and iron, all left without much embellishment. "I let the metal oxidize and only treated it with a transparent coating, so it doesn't continue to rust," he says. The iron balconies off the living room and master bedroom are meant to mimic bare-bones scaffolding.
Walls in the son's room and a guest room, currently used as a painting studio, are corrugated aluminum held in place with nuts and bolts. "I used dry construction methods that don't incorporate plaster or paint, so the layout is easily modified," the architect says. "If they want to change those rooms, like turning them into one big one or three smaller ones, they could do it very easily."
Even with I beams left exposed throughout, the interior vibrates with warmth. Luis Barragán inspired the master bedroom's focal wall, swathed in terra-cotta paint. "I don't like being slavish to any one type of architecture, but I love Barragán," Facundo says. The staircase that leads down to the ground level is iron painted red. In the kitchen, color blocks of glass mosaic tile combine with Harry Bertoia wire chairs in a sprightly yellow.
In a nod to nature, a viraro walkway crosses the river rocks and water that flow from an exterior koi pond, through the front door, and into the kitchen. Shells dot ledges. A fish tank becomes artwork, inserted in the wall separating the bathroom from the wide, sweeping living room.
Furnishings, many of them from the local flea market, bear witness to a point of view that pairs an admiration for icons of the Bauhaus and its followers with an affinity for 1970's light fixtures and retro record players. The BKF sling chairs in the living room hold particular importance. Designed by Grupo Austral, a triumvirate of Argentine architects highly influenced by Le Corbusier, the seating reflects an appreciation for a movement that wasn't always celebrated in Argentina, with its turbulent political history. "Because of the military's rise to power in the 1970's," Facundo says, "modernism didn't last very long."