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Meet the architects: Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo

Sensing Spaces

Published 3 December 2013

Spending some time with the Chilean architects who ‘consider’ rather than ‘design’.

  • Early this year I had the pleasure of spending five days with Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo (known simply as Pezo); staying in the house they designed, and talking almost non-stop about architecture and what they might do for this exhibition. It was very special witnessing how they work together. They would sit close, engaged in an intense discussion that would move quickly, building on one another’s ideas, while also questioning their own propositions. As they talked through ideas it was Pezo who would have a pen in hand, drawing as they talked.

  • Video

    Maurizio Pezo at work

  • I could see how their ethos and approach to architecture was reflected in their buildings. Together they bring an innate understanding of how people will respond and feel in a space and marry it with an absolute belief in an aesthetically pure architecture.

  • This space is based on something very hard; square openings, square spaces, very rigid but also so soft. So I think whoever goes through it wonders: how is it so diluted and informal when it’s so contained?

    Pezo von Ellrichshausen

  • I was really struck by how coherent and certain their buildings are. Their own house and studio, Casa Cien, stands upright – almost like a small monument – in a suburb, nestled into the foothills on edge of the industrial town of Concepción. A plinth with tower atop, it is a bold object that is starkly different from all the houses that surround it and is in no way apologetic about the fact.

    I asked them how those in the neighbourhood had responded when it was built. I gather people were rather perplexed and unsure to start with, but it has become a landmark and point of curiosity and interest that seems to be making its way into people’s hearts.

  • Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Cien House, Concepción, Chile

    Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Cien House, Concepción, Chile

    Photo © Pezo von Ellrichshausen

  • It struck me that it stands outside both time and tradition, questioning the relationships of the buildings and locale, asking which came first and what is right.

  • What’s nice about this house is it’s so rough and everything’s so incomplete. In a way it feels like it was born old.

    Pezo von Ellrichshausen

  • Pezo Von Ellrichshausen claim they do not “design.” It’s a word they seem to dislike because it suggests over-refinement; a distance from being truly ‘personal’. But they do carefully consider, combining a highly intellectual rationale with an intuitive understanding of the body in a space.

    I felt, perhaps because of the repeated square plan, perhaps because they use familiar materials and elements, that their house was clearly legible. But they place them in such a way that they suggest a new way of looking. The apparent simplicity is, in part, what makes walking through their buildings, at moments, unnerving and arresting, while also very beautiful.

  • Good architecture is somehow invisible, but it allows for whatever is happening in that space to be the very best experience possible.

    Pezo von Ellrichshausen

  • Video

  • Video


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