For the founders of LAND, the practice of architecture is as much about building relationships as designing buildings. Cristóbal Valenzuela Haeussler, 36, and Angela Delorenzo Arancibia, 35, who are married, established their Santiago, Chile–based firm in 2007. With a small team, ranging in size from four to six, LAND has built up a diverse portfolio of projects at a variety of scales. But the unifying theme of their work is an ability to leverage connections among their clients and like-minded organizations, corporations, and authorities, pressing on toward a mutually beneficial end while respectfully considering each project’s context. Whether building a school with donations from a cement company or securing funding for public projects from nonprofit groups, the firm consistently demonstrates a dedication to collaboration. “Buildings can be just buildings, or they can add value in the long term to the place and the community,” says Delorenzo. “We always try to identify and promote something of specific value in our work.”
After an earthquake and tsunami struck the central coast of Chile in 2010, LAND built two schools, both public-private hybrids common in Chile, to replace ones that had been destroyed. Years later, the education ministry came calling again, asking the firm to design a public school for the rural community of San Javier, located in the geographic center of the country. LAND connected the local school authority to Desafío Levantemos Chile, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) established after the earthquake for the purpose of rebuilding schools. The NGO ultimately provided funding for the project, which LAND designed as a prototype school cum community center to replace a building destroyed by wildfires earlier this year. With construction starting soon, the architects hope to build similar facilities in other remote, underserved places, where schools need the flexibility to provide social functions beyond the academic.
Flexing different muscles, the firm has also designed offices, high-end beach houses, and personal spas. But even with these private endeavors, LAND’s schemes carefully consider their context through thoughtful siting, landscaping, and material choices. Delorenzo, who is trained as both an architect and landscape architect, chose to use aromatic and edible plants in gardens at a forthcoming office building in the upscale Santiago neighborhood of Las Condes. “It refers to the history of the place,” she says, noting that the entire city is situated in a fertile valley known for its rich agricultural past. In residential beachfront projects, the firm focuses on preventing erosion, through landscaping as well as siting. “A big part of it is educating people, changing the way they see and relate to the landscape.”
The couple owns a plot of land in a coastal town near Santiago that they hope to one day develop for themselves. It’s an ideal location, given Valenzuela’s passion for kitesurfing. With a national championship title and a top-10 rank in the 2007 world championship competition, it is not surprising that the architect has developed an interest in building near the water. “I love the idea that the coast can be more inclusive, while also protected,” says Valenzuela, who, with Delorenzo, is working on four large master plans for regions along the Pacific coast and on the shore of Panguipulli Lake in southern Chile. In these, the firm is aiming to shift the paradigm for large developer-driven projects by mitigating erosion through landscaping and siting; rehabilitating wetland areas to help treat water and preserve ecosystems; and creating clear paths and trails allowing public access to the beaches. “Wherever we can, we seize the opportunity to create a public place through a private project,” says Delorenzo.
“We don’t see projects as objects,” she says; “we see them as part of systems. We try to understand the physical and social impact they will have—their bigger context. We believe we can approach every project in that way.”
DESIGN STAFF: 4-6
PRINCIPALS: Angela Delorenzo Arancibia and Cristóbal Valenzuela Haeussler
EDUCATION: Delorenzo Arancibia: University of California, Berkeley, master’s in Landscape Architecture, 2013; Universidad Finis Terrae, B. Arch., 2007. Valenzuela Haeussler: Universidad Finis Terrae, B.Arch., 2007
WORK HISTORY: Delorenzo Arancibia: Sebastián Irarrazaval Arquitectos, 2013; Christian de Groote Associated Architects, 2007. Valenzuela Haeussler: Wedeles & Manieu Arquitectos, 2006–07
KEY COMPLETED PROJECTS: Almost Cube House, 2017; Santa Rosa School, 2014; Las Palmas Bike Park master plan, 2014; Rambla House, 2012; Catch the Light Classrooms, 2011; Spa Las Palmas, 2007 (all in Chile)
KEY CURRENT PROJECTS: Desafío Rural School; Erizo House; ORIGAMI Office & Commerce Building; Apart Hotel Providencia; master plan Bahia Volcanes; concept master plan Maule Coast; concept master plan Los Islotes de Matanzas (all in Chile)