Castaños House

The house is designed for a young couple (Belen, co-author of this project, and Martin) who are looking forward to growing their family together. The decision was to work out a house of three bedrooms, a kitchen and dining room that integrate with the social spaces, a wide semi-covered area that holds the grill, a fireplace inside the social area, a swimming pool, a semi-covered space to keep two cars, the main bedroom, en-suite with a dressing room, and the second and third bedrooms that share the bathroom.

From the beginning it was important to prioritize the connections between spaces, to enhance social life and gathering activities. Regarding the esthetic requirements, the couple was interested in the use of bare concrete combined with black-color elements for the exterior and common spaces, whilst for the bedrooms they were looking for a more traditional profile, with plastered walls and wooden floors.

The project strategy consisted of breaking down the volume of the house, in a way that none of the façades would express the total height of the building, to avoid showing a robust object. The proportions of a two-story building inside a short plot could cause the perception of a bulky and heavy volume. This fragmentation was achieved with the distribution of the mass, alternating the filled (covered) and void (semi-covered) spaces. This avoids a compact look from the outside and instead creates an effect of permeability.

Τhe ground floor would host little covered surface, so it was laid out in such a way that it became visually open and free, with a predominant volume above it (the upper floor), which rises over the plot as a clean element standing on four concrete feet. Under the shadow of this floating prism is where all social activities of the house take place. The visual strategy consists on hiding the impact of the ground floor from the outside, that means the entrance, social area, and laundry room. To camouflage these areas, dark grey was used on all the ground floor partitions, except for the four concrete feet that hold the upper volume. Furthermore, the solid areas are visually hidden from the front by pulling back the entrance volume and the laundry room, positioning them behind a free semi-covered space for the car entrance. Then, a deep courtyard enlarges the distance between the social area and the street, turning it almost imperceptible. On one side of the courtyard stands the glass volume that holds the staircase and main entrance (in grey color on the front side). On the other side of the courtyard stands the grill area, which is separated and sheltered from the street by the volume that holds the laundry room, also in a dark grey color.

Towards the rear of the plot, the volume that holds the social area of the house faces the garden and the swimming pool. Inside, to the left side is the living room, which relates to the main entrance; to the right, the kitchen and dining room are connected to the semi-covered space of the grill area. Both living room and kitchen-dining-room areas are integrated and divided at the same time, due to a hanging sculptural element in bare concrete that works as the space for both the television and the fireplace, becoming the heart of the gathering area of the house.

Since there was not much vegetation compared to the built surface, and the intention was to generate an atmosphere that enhanced the contact with nature, the social area are positioned in direct relation with the garden and a large courtyard occupies the center, structuring the floor plan and allowing the alternation between open and closed spaces. In this way, the exterior becomes present in every space in a controlled manner, still encouraging the feeling of shelter.

The top floor is approached through a double-height space that faces the courtyard through a full-height glazing. The two secondary bedrooms face towards the front of the house, while the corridor that connects them incorporates an integrated desk, which faces both the internal courtyard and the backyard. The main bedroom is positioned to the right of the courtyard and concludes in a large terrace that fits into the entire width of the plot. The pergola acts both as a shelter from the sunlight and it visually completes the floating volume, to make it look as a compact element.

The courtyard brings light and wideness to all the spaces, and the vegetation will give privacy and contribute to climate regulation once it is fully developed.


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