Casa Corallo
In a grove of cypresses on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Paz Arquitectura’s Corallo house occupies 856 square metres, in a project that incorporates the pre-existing trees on site not only into the design of the house but in the everyday life of the family. In a curious spatial arrangement, the diverse areas of the house were distributed in a manner that seeks to create direct relationships with the trees. Thus, a thick trunk welcomes visitors, others appear in the main hall, and a few accompany residents into the private areas of the house.

Despite this integration of nature into its design, the house does not intend to merge or blend into the background, but rather to engage with it from a strongly tectonic and formal perspective. The single family house’s structure consists of three levels, presented to the visitor as a combination of two cubic-rectangular volumes that appear to float above the forest. The first harbours the kitchen and services in a vertical distribution of spaces; in the second, all private spaces are located. In these volumes, a simple but efficient system allows the cypresses to be inserted in the space, without compromising the generously proportioned environments.

The western concrete façade reveals the real dimension of the house, while the north-south sides feature ample glass surfaces. Large terraces are distributed at various levels to further strengthen the relationship with the outside and extend social and leisure areas. A few trees dot the immediate exterior, enhancing the presence of the forest in which the house is inserted, seeking to not interrupt its continuity.

As one moves downward, the three levels harbour progressively private functions: from the living rooms, dining room and kitchen on the upper floor, to the master bedroom, occupying the entire lower level with open spaces on both ends. The same happens in the rooms for the daughters of the family, which feature a system of sliding walls and a glass railing, turning them into authentic suite balconies when fully open and welcoming rooms when closed.

Thanks to careful management of diverse scales, spaces throughout the house are large and generous, maintaining nevertheless a human scale. Predominant materials are reinforced concrete and glass, creating a several openings to the forest and the garden in the east, which was the result of careful work by landscape architects Pokorny and Valencia. Particularly notable is the use of wood modular formwork, which from a module of 30 cm (the width of the table) is repeated in multiples of two or more for surround walls and half (15 cm) for shear walls that form the main structure. These are only interrupted by rectangular windows, which respect the same module. These coexist with uncut stone slabs — which seek to evoke the bark of surrounding trees —, which are used whenever outer walls touch the ground.

Description by Domusweb


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