Everything started when good friends of ours, a couple of with two children, dreamt about owning their own house outside the city of Murcia.
The family had spent weekends and their vacations in an incredible family house located in the mountains outside the city. Now, this house, La Paloma, has been pulled down to give way to a new motorway. For many of us it had been an exceptional house. La Paloma had been on a big site with a small forest of trees that had provided a setting for innumerable dinners with family and friends and stimulated great many children games.
The new house had to learn from the spirit of La Paloma. It should embody a quality of which every member of the family could evolve as an individual but also it would reinforce the family as well as social life with friends.
The site, however, for the new house had totally different characteristics. It is located in a new neighbourhood called Agridulce, close to Murcia University campus, with a landscape divided in tiny plots that all had been flattened out like they had been shaved down to its roots. The land was completely naked of all trees and plants, although the views towards the city of Murcia and the surrounding mountains were beautiful.
The home should also be a place with a small garden and a swimming pool where they could practice swimming exercises in the morning. Taking advantage of the slight slope of the site, the house is thought in three levels. Starting from street level, it carves into the slope to make space for the car park, storage area and a patio that can be used for different ball games. The wall from the facade continues up the slope taking turns to adjust to the site and shapes spaces for different activities around an open courtyard in the centre of the house. The kitchen, dining and living rooms are on this first floor allowing the garden to enter the living room to the north, through its big glass wall. The wall that enters the living room from the outside, leads the spiral upwards, which continues in its search for attractive views and determines the situations for the three bedrooms on the second floor. The master bedroom, with a view towards the city in the distance, incorporates a changing room and a bathroom. While the children are still small, their bedrooms are united into one so they enjoy a big space for their social needs. But, as they grow older and need more privacy, a dividing wall is inserted as foreseen in the project.
The entire house works in its section as a staircase inside a big twisted chimney full of fresh air, light and plants.
Planta de Cubiertas
Another important starting point was the building process. It was crucial since the house had to be economic and not to rely on specialised labour.
The conception of the building structure began with concrete walls that were folded like laces and subsequently created different spaces in their interiors. From these conceptual stages, the structure developed into volumes with a centrifugal movement that coils up the three floors and provides views and breeze in the gaps of its corners. With this movement, the structure becomes in itself open to the interior (the home) and protects against the exterior (the neighbours and the strong sun). The concrete walls are cast in timber-cement boards. These plank moulds are left to be covered with plants outside.
The plan of the house shows how it turns in order to gain views of the mountains, the city, the Cathedral and Monteagudo from different rooms. And, at the same time, it creates different atmospheres that mingle textures from the interior/exterior, offering a view of the swimming pool from the kitchen or allowing the plants to grow from the garden and up the wall of the children’s bedroom. The internal staircase in the patio between the floors is open to allow the light to enter the heart of the dwelling. Thus, the light gains almost a physical quality and seems solid.
In this way, the project for the new house in Agridulce focused on looking for atmospheres and textures that could add to the live of the inhabitants, just like the old house, La Paloma, had done in the past. The urban planning had left the site in Agridulce stripped bare but the new setting for the family succeeds in combining nature with construction and hence, provides privacy from its neighbours and yet, celebrates the social life that the old house had inspired.