An old stone-built ruin in a breath taking setting, surrounded by 25 hectares of oak forest with distant views of the Mediterranean sea. Local building regulations stipulate that the building had to be rebuilt as it once was, but the owners were seeking to create an eco experience for high end rentals.
Our work aimed to create a modern, luxury estate in an old stone envelope. We’ve opened the house up on all sides, letting the light flood in and bringing the views inside. The house sits on a steep incline and we’ve connected the house and garden on various levels.
When this was a farmhouse, traditionally the animals would have lived downstairs with the living spaces upstairs. We therefore chose to place the bedrooms on the lower level so they stay nice and cool in summer, and the living spaces on the first floor, to make best use of the views and to allow direct access to the newly created south facing part of the garden, with the swimming pool.
The design concept was to create a start contrast between the uneven old stone wall and the geometric new interventions, an effect heightened by the choice of materials. These were all chosen to integrate the house visually in its surroundings, and for their wabi-sabi, the way they become more beautiful over time.
The house is insulated to Passivhaus standards, using cork insulation produced from locally grown cork. These are set behind Claytec panels of clay and straw, making sure the old stone wall remains a breathable construction, while keeping the warmth in during winter and the heat out in summer. Natural Claytec plaster eliminates the need for paint, making the house an utterly non-chemical environment.
ZEST designed special sliding windows, which disappear into the wall when opened, so that the view towards the sea remains interrupted. A natural pool with a plant and gravel filter system provides an additional spectacular view from the living spaces year round, and an oasis for swimming.
The house has a geothermal installation for underfloor heating in winter and underfloor cooling in summer. There is a plan for a future hybrid installation for the houses energy, consisting of solar panels plus a small windmill, to take the house off the grid.
Water is provided by a well and is therefore a limited resource. All water (including that from showers and loos) is therefore recycled through a reed bed, and used to irrigate the garden. The garden was designed by Co Govers to be a water wise garden, with species specifically suited to the Mediterranean climate, capable of withstanding drought. A large vegetable garden and orchard provides food year round for owners and guests.