Excerpt: The residence, Casa Fragata by Estudio Galera is a closed monovolume built 4 metres above street level. The empty area beneath the volume was designed to allow for “freer” and more feasible functions outdoors. The staircase core separates the public and private spaces, keeping all of the house’s covered activities in a box upstairs.The house offers expansive views of the first floors of the nearby homes from every room as it is totally open to the north.
[Text as submitted by architect] Casa Fragata was designed in 2017 and built between that year and 2021 in the Alamos neighbourhood, northwest Pinamar. During the pandemic, the house was the only one on the block in a neighbourhood that was developing at a lethargic pace but was soon surrounded by several buildings, some of which were even inhabited before Fragata House. This area continues to be the fastest-growing sector of the city, creating a constantly changing urban landscape.
The dwelling rests on ten points on an almost flat site that is 24.50 metres wide and 41 metres long. Raising the house was the only request of the owners, who would inhabit the house permanently. Therefore, Fragata was conceived as a closed monovolume built 4 metres above street level. Under the volume, the empty space was designed in direct relation to the plot for ‘freer’ and more feasible uses outside.
All of the house’s covered activities are contained in a box upstairs, with the staircase core dividing the public from the private space. By switching the general circulation’s direction, one can access the study that is located here.
The house, positioned perpendicular to the street, opens completely to the north in all its rooms, offering extended views over the ground floor of the neighbouring houses. By leaning on the opposite setback, the first construction appears to be 17 metres away. Due to its characteristics of implantation and regulatory restrictions, the house will always benefit from open views of the forest in the centre of the block and of the distant Alamos Boulevard. Its position in height also allows it to dominate 360-degree views.
The programme was divided between uses of spaces that had to be protected from inclement weather and those that could be carried out outdoors and under the semi-cover area in mild weather. Dividing the programme this way results in an economy of square metres only feasible by elevating the house, minimising the covered spaces below, and making the most of the square metres under the elevated box.
A simple fan is created by the materials used: concrete, aluminium, and glass on the outside, to which wood is added inside. A catalogue of low and easy maintenance, which is also reflected in the landscape treatment as the plot maintains the natural and native state of the dune. The structure is partially shown by structural walls and inclined pillars. The same scheme covers the connection of these elements under the sand and the trusses of beams over the entire surface on the ground floor. It is here where the loads coming from the roof from the blunt partition walls and columns—which blend with the carpentry profiles at the front—are evenly distributed. On the roof, the beams hold slabs at different levels, defining the spaces they contain.
Freeing the zero to maximise the use of the floor by proposing activities under the structure means understanding that the space is shaped by the overhangs and the intermediate structure between the upper floor and the bases. This generates a versatile area only defined by the function it will have (parking, playroom, gym, barbecue area). The barbecue grill, bathroom, and access to the house were the only fixed elements that helped generate a full and clear space without interruptions.
Open views in width and length at street level expand and mix the public space with the private one. As there are no fences or adjoining constructions to set limits, urban gestures such as street feeder pillars and vehicular footprints mark the division between the urban condition and the private one, turning the lot into an appendix of the public space. Casa Fragata stands as a horizontal volume that delimits the space, giving it human scale and transforming itself, by its imprint, into part of the air.