This project was to be a house for a family with greatly different ideas about what constitutes a house. One parent dreaming of a strikingly modern aesthetic, the other of a traditional house with a sloping roof, and with respect for the rules of Feng Shui. ZEST architecture had to find a way to interpret both these views and create a house that would feel like a home for the entire family.
The villa is located on a plot in the town of Alella, with views both of the Mediterranean, and the city of Barcelona. The design departed from the idea of making the most of the views to all sides. We developed a volumetric concept that is an intricate play with three different materials and various different heights. Because the apparent absence of a roof is one of the things that people with a taste for the traditional dislike about the modern, we lent maximum importance to the roof line.
On the street side the house presents its most formal modern aspect, two volumes clad in silver travertine porcelain panels, framed by white render. Here the roof still holds back. The entrance draws most of our attention then, with a massive double door and pergola, finished in wooden slats. The path to the entrance is around a pond which breaks the straight line (Feng Shui!) then leads to monumental steps. Once inside we are greeted with a dramatic spatial display. The entire entrance hall is double height, with a staircase that seems to float upwards to the first floor.
Seen from the garden, on the other hand, the house is dominated by its roofline, with a wide dark grey cornice that communicates with the other dark grey elements in the design, such as the large balcony and the window frames.
The light filled interior has an almost Scandinavian ring to it and the views on all sides never cease to impress. The limited palette of white, dark grey and cream stone is repeated throughout, complemented with natural oak to bring warmth to the interior. Bespoke wooden elements such as the staircase and the beautiful sliding doors with a rhombus pattern executed in natural oak, and the perfectly executed detailing all lend the house a feeling of luxury.
This large villa may not seem like the obvious environmentally friendly construction, but it absolutely is: the house has achieved A++ energy rating. We used Ytong aerated concrete blocks for the façade, which was then clad throughout with cork exterior insulation and lime render to create a construction without thermal bridges. Balconies are connected using Halfen-hit insulated connectors. The large windows not only maximize daylight and views, but are Schüco frames with insulating double glazing, protected with automatically operated sunshades in order to avoid heating up in Summer. Heating and cooling are provided by an air-to-water heat pump and the roof is topped by a 20 panel solar array.
The beautiful waterwise garden, with drought-tolerant species especially suited to the Mediterranean climate, was designed by ZEST principal Co Govers. The swaying grasses soften the hard lines of the modern design and create visual interest year round.