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American Society of Landscape Architects


July 2005 Issue

Two If by Sea
Elite residences celebrate the stone and native vegetation of Chile's sea cliffs.

By Jimena Martignoni

Two If by Sea
Guy Wenborne

With a Pacific coastline stretching for 2,700 miles along its western edge and an average distance of only 110 miles across, Chile is a country dominated by a marine landscape. Sea and cliffs, characteristic of most Chilean beach towns, are also the signature features of the country's affluent resort communities.

Two such towns on Chile's central coast have gracefully integrated existing landscape, architecture, and gardens. Zapallar, located 93 miles north of the capital of Santiago, is one of the most desirable seaside locations in the country; the village of Bahia Azul, 40 miles farther north, is enclosed by a dramatic rocky landscape. In both communities, large private summerhouses dot the ocean-facing cliffs.

Juan Grimm is a Chilean architect and landscape architect who has focused on residential projects for 20 years. He works also in Uruguay and Argentina, but it's in Chile where most of his projects are located. By applying a personal design vocabulary that draws on natural elements and interactions, Grimm roots his designs in three main ideas: the preservation of the native flora and the re-creation of the original landscapes around the houses; the passage of time, based on a deep knowledge of seasonal color and bloom; and the incorporation of the surrounding landscapes into the design through carefully planned vistas.

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