From the street, handsome walls of recycled natural stone combined with the rich caramel tones of timber cladding tantalisingly conceal what lies beyond. It is only when you walk along the suspended bridge, above a lushly planted garden, and step through the front door that the full effect of this L-shaped house is revealed.
By the entrance, an elegant spiral staircase leads to the ground floor with its flatlet and recreational area. Pivot left, however, and a commanding open-plan space leads to enormous floor-to-ceiling doors that look out over a sparkling blue pool and beyond, far-reaching views of meandering rubble walls give way to fields, and finally the sea. Stand outside, and the high vertical walls give way to a cantilevered roof, the contrasting horizontal plane adding depth as well as giving the building a relaxed vibe.
The juxtaposition of an introverted house with a bright and open interior was deliberate, driven by the need to shield the homeowners from the impact of any future neighbouring development and, given its south-facing aspect, protect the house from the intense heat of the sun. The sloping site was also a determining factor. ‘The views become evident the higher you go so we deliberately built up the area around the pool so as to take advantage of them,’ says Ian Critien, co-partner of CVCarchitecture, the architects responsible for the project. ‘This also created a lower level which allowed us to include the amenities which take the house to the next level – a gym, indoor pool, games room and garage.’
The open nature of the living space of kitchen, dining area and living room is contrasted by a more private wing in which can be found the bedrooms and bathrooms. ‘Creating living and sleeping zones on the same level is always a challenge in terms of design,’ says Ian. ‘With an L-shape we could wrap around the pool and decking, giving the house two distinct and separate areas. The private space is detached from the public so if there is a party in the living room, it’s possible not to be disturbed in the bedrooms.’
Despite its luxurious feel, the structural design of the building was relatively traditional, employing a mixture of load-bearing walls, reinforced concrete columns, (but at 30cm quite slender), and reinforced concrete beams and ceilings. ‘This ensured that construction costs and future maintenance and serviceability costs for the building were contained,’ says fellow partner Andrea Vassallo Cesareo.
The palette of materials was derived from its surroundings. ‘We liked the idea of the contrast between the traditional materials and modern architecture,’ says Andrea. Sustainability, too, was key and this runs throughout the project. Every piece of recycled stone in the walls was cut to fit and matched to the surrounding ones for a smooth and elegant finish. ’There are two separate reservoirs so as much water as possible can be collected and recycled,’ says Andrea. ‘We also integrated the PVC cells into the roof, placing 40 of them at a shallow angle so they cannot be seen from ground level.’
The homeowners wanted a ‘very functional’ house that used all its rooms and maximised the outside area and, they say, the result is just what they wanted. ‘It’s a wonderful property with multiple facilities designed by talented architects with great passion for their work.’