words Elaine Knutt
Casa Poli – so called because it is a poly-purpose building – clings to a rocky peninsula on Chile’s Pacific coast, 500km south of Santiago.
The minimalist concrete cube is a weekend retreat for its owner-designers, an artist’s studio, a private gallery and a venue for artistic residencies.
Two bedrooms sit above a space that can be converted from a holiday house to a studio or gallery by stowing the furniture and fittings into wall storage.
Casa Poli was designed by Chilean architects Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo for themselves and another couple, after they were offered the chance to buy the dramatic site on the Coliumo Peninsula. The foursome then managed to build Casa Poli for just $63,000 (£35,000).
Von Ellrichshausen says that the building’s cubic shape and exposed concrete were functional responses to the site rather than design statements.
“The site is surrounded by water on three sides, so we needed something compact. It will be closed for much of the time, so we needed shutters over the windows and a
building that wouldn’t need maintenance. The concrete will just age naturally, like rock.
Lots of small design decisions led to the shape – it wasn’t pre-established,” she says.
The rawness of the exterior continues inside, where the floors and whitewashed walls are also concrete. The doors and shutters are made of recycled timber, which repeats the wood-grain imprint in the concrete.
The foursome have invited Chilean and international artists to take up residencies, which they plan to document in interviews and photography. German painter Hans-Hendrik Grimmling will be the first to take up the invitation.
“Most galleries just offer a place to exhibit, but we are trying to get into the process of making,” says Von Ellrichshausen. “Lots of artists are interested in participating.”