Marià Castelló arquitecte designs a home/office on the Formentera Island, Spain
‘Es Pujol de s’Era’ is a very characteristic tract of countryside in the interior of Formentera. It comprises some 33,000 m² of wheat and barley fields and a bushed area with savin, rosemary and juniper, set in a topography that is almost flat. This was to be the location of a space for living and working. The building, a strictly geometrical structure of 12 x 12 metres, nestles between the existing vegetation and a remnant of a traditionally crafted drystone wall. The wall establishes the alignment of the building on the site. Similarly, an old ‘cistern chapel’ determines the longitudinal axis. This architecture seeks contextualization by way of interaction with the
surroundings, echoing the traditional Formentera architecture, yet avoiding mimicry. The north-south orientation of the design creates the duality present in the programme: the separation of public activity from private life. The architectural studio is located in the northernmost part, which is also the most exposed side. Natural northern light floods the space
throughout the day. The priority with this space was to avoid any sense of confinement. We did this by opening up one of the walls to draw the natural surroundings inside. The house was planned as a refuge; it opens up fully to the south in search of the sun, as well as pursuing maximum interaction between interior and exterior. From indoors, the small
wood is perceived as a natural garden needing no alteration or upkeep whatsoever, and giving considerable seclusion and privacy.
A nucleus of services is set between the studio and the house, physically separating work and private life yet providing shared elements of ‘infrastructure’: library, filing system, bathroom, kitchen, beds, cupboards, machinery and two sliding partitions which enable the
two main zones to be separated, partitioning off spaces that require privacy the most, such as an adjoining office or a room for guests. In this way a degree of flexibility has been achieved.
A slight staggering of the elevation along the perimeter gives the impression that the building is hovering above the ground on which it is set. This effect represents the transition or frontier between the architectural intervention and the original, organic features. The envelope
is made of coated thermo-clay blocks and reinforced concrete; an extruded section is the only part of the building that involved ‘wet’ construction. The rest of the interior and exterior walls were dry-built, using glass and iroko wood. The side openings present as incisions slicing the facade open from top to bottom, fragmenting the east and west elevations and giving them a
less massive appearance. The ‘auxiliary’ elements and the furniture were designed following the exterior image and with the same materials used for the ‘dry’ interior spaces, thereby contributing to the pursuit of greater simplicity and harmony.’
Marià Castelló arquitecte's home/office building has made it through to the shortlist of six houses for the WAN House of the Year 2007 award. One of these six houses will be named the overall winner next Friday 15 February.
The jury's comment:
A well tried formula of the simple form in a stark and sparse landscape. The controlled geometry, detailing and use of materials, particularly the way the wood interior elements interact with nature outside, makes this a supreme example of the genre in a climate and vernacular which can accept it. The judges were seduced by the scheme and its submitted images. They felt, however, that although the work/living functions were well integrated into the program, this scheme was not adventurous in furthering the house typography.