Luz House, a single-family house born from the transformation of an existing structure in the Spanish town of Cilleros. Luz House transforms the existing house of Mrs. Luz Almeida in order to maximize natural light and provide an outdoor space. The architects used the low budget and physically tight constraints of the project to their advantage, empyting the interior of the house, arranging the new house around a central courtyard, and leaving the stone façades and rammed-earth party walls.
Luz, the owner, wanted a house with lots of natural light and related to the outdoors and the yard. In its original condition the central area of the house lacked natural light and ventilation. These factors, together with a extremely low budget, led to a strategy of simplifying and purifying the design of the project; cleaning and emptying the interior of the existing house, leavingthe stone façades and rammed-earth party walls while arranging the new house around an interior courtyard. This time, our approach comes from the use of the local know-how and reliability of natural materials adapted to the economical and geographical context.
“The designers understood well and solved brilliantly the constructive and economic constraints of the project, a new structure inserted in the stone party walls of an existing town house. A direct dialogue with the client and the clear strategy to build the program around a new courtyard allowed the simple yet effective construction of this single house. The architects used the existing stone façades and adobe party walls to achieve very high spatial qualities with very cheap construction materials.” – Mies van der Rohe Awards / jury’s comment
The project is a complete refurbishment maintaining facades. It has an open floor plan to make it a multipurpose area, unheated, and related to the garden. The functional program is divided into four rooms around a courtyard. Deciduous vegetation casts pleasing shadows and stays downstairs and contributes to climate control of the house.
- Surrounding the courtyard, 4 floors are built at different levels. Each of these contain a single use; kitchen, living room, bedroom 1 and bedroom 2. The courtyard is dominated by a birch tree, so that the living room and kitchen are among the green interior and the green garden.
- The stairwell, located in the living room and kitchen, prevents circulation near the bedrooms, which are located between the courtyard and the main facade. Each room has its own bathroom, fully open to the patio and with dual access from the room and the corridor itself.
- The lining of the bathrooms is white gloss glazed tiles that reflect the tree leaves and the light of the courtyard, doubling the effect of the tree’s presence. There’s a metal framework walkway that goes around the courtyard, allowing a double inner-outer circulation. Besides functioning as a circulation element, it can also serve as a bench where you can sit, extending the interior-courtyard relation.
The structure and construction are overwhelming in its simplicity. The work shows its pure materiality and deliberately contrasts with irregular textures of rammed-earth and stone, which have been whitewashed. It has sought an atmosphere where the red color of the ceramic and the intense green birch predominate, and it’s the light that bathes these materials through various shades of the walls and floors throughout the day. The ceramic material itself gives us the desired texture and warm color, so paintings or false ceilings were unnecessary.
The entire ground floor is covered by a large blanket of red tiles, which goes along with the ceiling and defines the basin of the tree. In the rear of the ground floor is the summer living area. This room is designed so that it can be fully opened to both the courtyard and the garden, to enjoy the cool breeze in the summer when the sun hits hard.
Choosing a deciduous tree guarantees us a shadow in the hottest season, while in winter lets in the sun to heat and light the rooms, limiting the use of heating and cooling systems. It also works as a visual filter between spaces. Using local materials lowers ecological footprint.
Project name: Luz House
Location: Calle la Iglesia, Cilleros, Cáceres, Spain
Coordinates: 40.111897, -6.793115
- Type By Characteristic: Renovation / Expansion / Extension : House, Green & Sustainable House
- Type By Site: Countryside / Suburb House
- Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Plaster / Mortar / Masonry House
Site area: 77 sqm
Building Area: 136 sqm
Project Year: 2012-2013
Completion Year: 2013
Client / Owner / Developer: Mrs. Luz Almeida
Architects: ARQUITECTURA-G – C/ Ciutat de Granada, 31 3º, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Architect In Charge: Jonathan Arnabat, Jordi Ayala-Bril, Aitor Fuentes, Igor Urdampilleta
Text Description: © Courtesy of ARQUITECTURA-G, Mies van der Rohe Awards
Images: © ARQUITECTURA-G, José Hevia