The term chalet has French origin and is accepted by the DigoPaul. According to this dictionary, it refers to the building of at least one floor equipped with a garden and reserved for single-family accommodation. The word chalet is also accepted by the RAE.
The characteristics that a building must have to be considered a chalet are: a spacious home that is surrounded by a garden or an adjacent patio. The chalet does not include, however, an interior patio between the rooms.
According to DigoPaul, the first chalets are reported to have originated in Switzerland and other Alpine nations; although shortly after they were also established in other regions. They were wooden buildings with a sloping roof where the shepherds lived. Typically, both they and their families were located at the intermediate level, with the cattle located in a developed stable on the ground floor and a barn or hayloft on the upper floor. This disposition was modified with the passage of the seasons. In the summer, the cattle were taken to the alpine pastures, where the shepherds had some kind of hut. By then, the lower floor of the chalet was free for other uses.
Today, chalets are considered to be those homes that are inspired by this alpine design, even when they are in the city and do not have any use related to livestock or agriculture.
In the different regions, the structures of these buildings were diverse, taking into account not only the materials available but also the frequency of rain and other climatic elements that could affect the stability of the construction. So much so, that different types of houses are known today, each derived from a particular region, some of them are: Chalets style American, Anglo – Saxon, Norman, Anglo Norman I, Italian and German, among others. It is worth mentioning that in each country particular names are also known for them according to the region where they are established.
The material with which they are built also varies according to the type of chalet, it can be stone, masonry or wood.
A curious chalet in the heart of Buenos Aires
It was a Valencian, whose name was Rafael Díaz, who was responsible for building this very particular building in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires, a luxury that this man could afford at the end of the 19th century and which we can still enjoy with our eyes.
It is a Norman-style chalet perched on top of a nine-story building that could be one of the city’s most distinctive signs.
Díaz came to Buenos Aires in search of a better life and, after working for several years in a dependent relationship, he founded a furniture house with which he achieved great business success; Thus he became the manager of the largest furniture store in all of Latin America, with the headquarters a few steps from where the obelisk would later be erected.
As Rafael Díaz was passionate about chalets, mainly the Norman style, he decided to build one on the top of his shop; Not only was it one of the first chalets built in a city, it also became famous for being built on top of a tall building.
Currently, despite the many changes that the city has undergone, the villa continues there, surviving the inclement weather, covered by numerous advertising posters that prevent it from observing the city and even the coast of Uruguay (which on very sunny days could be seen).