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"Modern Sensitivity within Genuine Colonial. Sergio Larraín's House in Lo Contador."

Part 1 Dissertation 2004
Jocelyn Froimovich
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Santiago Chile
“On walking through the grounds (El Comendador) I came across this wreck of a house (...). It enthused me to make it mine. I liked it, it was authentic. Not as an academic exercise, I wanted to convert this genuine colonial into a modern house; so I then devoted myself to studying it and making it both authentic and contemporary at the same time... And thus this house came into being, which I picked up, as a sculptor picks up a stone, such as it is and was able to make something out of it.”
Sergio Larraín GM

Housing enlargements are relatively exceptional in the modern movement . Held to be a leading figure in Chile from the Thirties up to the Fifties, Sergio Larraín is usually considered, after designing the Oberpaur and Santa Lucía buildings, as having introduced modern architecture into our country. That this architect should choose to transform a traditional dwelling, must have surprised his milieu and shows a breaking point in the sensitivity and conception of modern architecture in Chile.
This essay relates to the processes of transforming the original house: The change of direction in the access and the promenade generated by it, as well as the operation to frame and build the boundaries, allowed for two new areas and created a sequence of spaces of different characteristics. It is interesting to understand how these new characteristics, compared with the characteristics of the initial building, ennoble and add complexity to the project as a whole.

Jocelyn Froimovich

The dissertation "Modern Sensitivity within Genuine Colonial" made part of a reaserch seminar on modern Chilean houses built between 1950 and 2000. Both the selection of the topic – the Sergio Larraín house – and the research done on it, were a real contribution to the seminar. Jocelyn Froimovich suggestion of a modern attitude inspired by traditional colonial architecture is a key point to understand the production of the period. Her empiric research allowed her to collect very valuable documentation on the topic. This, jointly with the graphic and photographic survey that she did about the house, gave her a solid base to produce a text which is able to refer the topic to philosophical and historiacal sources. The essay was awarded a special prize, as the best one in her generation, by a jury designed by the School.

Fernando Perez Oyarzun
Professor in charge of the research seminar.

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