A COUNTRY ESTATE, A FARM, A PARK · CUNACO, COLCHAGUA VALLEY, CHILE
Our LOFdrone this week presents Hacienda Cunaco, a local interpretation of an Italian villa that reinforces the concept of a gradual transition between interior and exterior spaces in a traditional Chilean house.
The Hacienda Cunaco, constructed in the second half of the 18th century by farmer Ignacio Aránguiz, was one of the largest properties in the Colchagua Valley. It included a residence, a small machine shop where the keys were also kept, and storage areas. His nephew Ignacio Valdés Larrea (1809-1875) inherited the lands, and as a progressive farmer, he added to the estate by creating canals with water from the Tinguiririca River, expanding the irrigation surface, increasing his grain production for export to California, and even building a mill that to this day gives an identity to the locale. Around 1840, he also extended the original house. He bequeathed the estate to his son Carlos Valdés (1835-1894), an active professional, who enlarged the mill, created an important vineyard and a large private park, and constructed a new house, Provasoli House, juxtaposed to the existing house. Carlos reoriented the new house façade towards the south to look directly at the railway line that as of 1872 connected San Fernando with Palmilla.
The Provasoli House, which was built between 1875 and 1877, shows a clear desire to observe the modernity expressed in the railway, a fundamental mode of transport for the materials and equipment used in its construction. The house is eclectic in style, little known in Chile at the time, with its greatest merit being the successful combination of two architectures or two compositional orders: the plan and materiality (adobe and clay roof tiles) of a traditional house in the Central Valley and the use of a hierarchical plan organizing its axes and elements. This unprecedented operation in the Chilean architectural milieu was of such power that it was capable of acting on the pre-existing concept of old houses, providing a new identity to the point of subverting the manner in which a property was accessed. In this operation, the creation of a park between the new house and the railway line would be central, creating a wide view that would make the façade visible to the train and the adjoining road.
This new perspective created a unique space in the imaginary of Chilean country houses if we consider that in general, the element of the façade is absent. Here for the first time in Chile, we see the elevation of an Italian villa, high verticality and transparency with an exceptional decorative expression. Between the house and the park, there is a wide terrace that enhances the façade with its set of staircases and balustrades and from which there is a privileged position to appreciate the parade of horses that would be arriving to the estate with the magnificent backdrop of the six-hectare park, created by the Italian landscaper Francisco Canova.
It is worth mentioning that the logic of gradually moving between interior spaces and exterior spaces is an essential feature of the traditional Chilean house. This circulation is a constant that is maintained both in the old and new constructions and that integrates the whole complex; a logic in which the park, with its oval layout, the monumental nature of some of its elements and the fading of its edges, helps everything to flow and breathe.
José Quintanilla Chala is an architect from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC, 1993) and holds a PhD in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (2204). He is co-author of the book Los Hechos de la Arquitectura and currently teaches at the PUC. Highlights of his work include the building for the Escuela de Jueces of Spain (School of Judges) in Barcelona and the Academic Building at the School of Arts at the PUC in Santiago, Chile.
Recommended bibliography: · Macarena Gaete Cruz, Ana Luisa de Cunaco, Florecimiento de una Hacienda en el Chile del Centenario (Ana Luisa de Cunaco, Blossoming of a Country Estate in Centennial Chile) Escuela de Arquitectura, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 2006) · Gabriel Guarda O.S.B., Colchagua: Arquitectura Tradicional (Colchagua: Traditional Architecture) (Santiago, 1988) · Carlos J. Larraín de Castro, ‘Parques Tradicionales Chilenos,’(Traditional Chilean Parks) Boletín de la Academia Chilena de Historia (1956) · Teresa Pereira, Hernán Rodríguez y Valeria Maino, Casas de Campo Chilenas. Desde el Valle del Maipo hasta el Valle del Maule (Chilean Country Houses, From the Maipo Valley to the Maule Valley) (Santiago, 2004) · Romolo Trebbi del Trevignano, Desarrollo y Tipología de los Conjuntos Rurales de la Zona Central de Chile (Development and Typology of the Rural Complexes of the Central Zone of Chile) (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 1980) · Cristián Boza, Parques y Jardines Privados de Chile (Parks and Private Gardens of Chile) (Santiago, 1984)