The site is surrounded by pine trees on an isolated estate that began being built in the seventies, near the town of Benicassim in Castellon, Spain. What really stands out about its location is the views. The plot, with its steep slopes and irregular geometry, is situated on top of a hill in Montornes, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Its main access point is down a public road leading from above.The project was born out of this difficult terrain which, rather than proving problematic, helped guide the architect’s work. Following the edges of the plot’s perimeter, the two houses are joined together as one.
The layout aims to make the most of the available space and complies with building regulations dictating minimum space distances from the edges of the plot – three metres from the eastern edge and five from the western.
The building’s relationship with its surroundings is based on a series of wishes that the owners (two married couples) and the architect expressed: both houses must have their own sense of privacy whilst still being open to the vast stretches of land and sea surrounding them, they must be well-lit with natural ventilation and plenty of shady outdoors spaces, the natural features of the surrounding environment must not be spoiled (e.g. the sea view from the access road to the north) and they must be constructed economically, using the least number of materials possible.
A series of transition spaces between the inside and the outside – very common in popular Mediterranean architecture – work together to build a relationship between the houses and their exteriors and provide a sense of order and control. The interiors can be extended and adapted with sliding glass doors, opening up new areas of space that can be used for unexpected purposes.
Throughout the build an ongoing dialogue was maintained between the architect, the quantity surveyor, the contractor and the owners, with the site being closely monitored at all times. This collaborative style of working meant that aspects of the project could be changed and details redefined over the course of the construction process.
For each house, the main entrance is on the first floor where the private living spaces are; three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a study. The ground floor is designed as an open-plan space that opens up onto the rear patio, side gardens and front terrace and contains all the common areas; the living/ dining room, the kitchen, the utility room and a toilet.