[photos via carlospaezvilaro.info]
I came across Casapueblo years ago, but it surprised me at the time how difficult it was to find information in English on such a remarkable building, let alone decent photographs. My patience has paid off, though, and I've managed to piece together the story of the seaside structure well enough.
It was 1958 when artist Carlos Páez Vilaró chose to make his home and studio on an unassuming plot of land in Punta Ballena, Uruguay. Despite the remarkable seascape and proximity to the city of Punta del Este, the spot was entirely desolate when the artist settled down, lacking trees, paths, electricity and water.
Living in a tin box where he kept his building materials, Páez Vilaró enlisted his friends to help build the initial wood structure, which he then covered with cement. Inspired by the mud nests of the region's native hornero birds, Páez Vilaró avoided right angles at all costs as he continually expanded Casapueublo, sometimes adding a room on a whim for a visiting guest.
While nearly every article I read compares Casapueblo to the whitewashed buildings of Santorini or Mykonos, I can't help but see a little of Gaudi's surrealism in it. Perhaps its the imperfectness of the building, which the artist created by hand sculpting the walls, imprinting the concrete with the texture of his skin. In any case, Páez Vilaró was not trained as an architect, and Casapueblo is not known to mimic anything built before it.
Today, a portion of the sprawling property comprises a museum, restaurant and 72-room hotel open to the public. But, from what I can tell, Páez Vilaró continues to live and work on the property.