Working from the idea of the Four-Directional Module this beach house in Rocha, Uruguay, designed by Brandlhuber+ uses stacked maisonette units to optimize exposure to the sun and surrounding landscape.
Completed in 2015, the three-story building is the first built example of “four-directions module”, a live-work typology that Brandlhuber’s studio has been developing for over a decade. The typology is based on a combination of maisonette units whose first and second levels are disposed perpendicularly to one another, the idea being that an east-west orientation is ideal for living — morning and evening sun — while northern exposure (in the northern hemisphere that is) is preferable for working. Economical to construct, the module comes endowed with “built-in” luxuries: windows that face in all four cardinal directions, a double-height space, and an exterior entrance for each unit.
Overlooking the ocean from its beachside pine-grove location, the house is constructed from a concrete frame with brick infill, a method that local workers are familiar with and could realize cheaply. The materials are left raw, expressing a straightforward philosophy: concrete is concrete, wood is wood (the bathrooms, cabinets, and furniture are constructed from plywood and were built by German woodworkers who spent two months working onsite). Heating is provided by fireplaces, and curtains can be used to partition the open floor plan. The details are typically blunt, like the floor-to-ceiling mesh installed in place of handrails.