Franco . van Teslaar

Paz House . Robledo de Chavela

Arturo Franco . Fabrice van Teslaar . fotos: © Carlos Fernández Piñar . + archdaily

Paz House is located in a neighborhood from the 1960s, approximately 70 km from Madrid. The architecture of the area could be considered conventional residential, without any architectural interest, built with tremendously heterogeneous topologies and materials.

Outside the village of Robledo de Chavela is the Cofio River neighborhood, where the 1400 m2 site is on a steep slope on the edge of a cliff that overlooks a small river. The site is accessed from a road that goes around the top. Right across, to the west over the valley, rises the mountain again very steeply, generating a specially protected natural park. When we first saw the site, we felt the need to get there with the house, to be hung in the middle of the valley, suspended in the canopy of a tree, almost on the other side, listening to the murmur of the Cofio River just below. From here we had to solve a technical, functional and economic problem.
Need gave way to ingenuity to the extreme, and we subcontracted all trades separately. None of them (all local offices), or us, had faced a structural problem for a home like this before. How to get there and achieve a unique room for two people? We started thinking: another iron ship as those from the visionary Russian Constructivists, a work of Tony Carr, a chair by Shapiro, a Max Bill piece, something heavy and light at the same time, gravity as a problem, scale as a work instrument, a large table or a small boat. We were definitely seeking a linear house with an ascending character. The straight line and an interior staircase with large steps 90 cm. wide, as for a garden, which articulates all functions. Beneath it is a small therapy pool 2m wide by 10 m long.

The whole program develops inside a square metal frame and stretched metal skin (deploye) resting on a vessel of reinforced concrete, that contains the pool water and the deposits of diesel, boiler, sewage, etc. This iron artifact where all vital fluids are concentrated is the stomach of the animal, over 15 meters above the river. Nine HEB 300 legs unload the weight on the ground. They are the only contact of the house with the ground. The house, to maintain structural balance and some gravitational logic, cantilevers without any support 5,5 m over the river, and the same amount towards the road, with only 40 cm remaining between the house and the site over the access area. Thus, the balance of masses is achieved by taking the heavy elements to the concrete box and thus lowering the center of gravity.
The crane that was available to us could only reach 18 m, that is, until the end of the concrete vessel. We could not reach out to build the furthest overhang, so we had to lift the entire metal cage of the house offset to the road, and then slide it over the concrete vessel, through manuals struts, on rails, to form the final overhang, like a train.
In short, this house has been an adventure in which Paz and her husband Tomas are living. We appreciate their infinite confidence and courage, with which, they say, they feel fully identified.

Architects: Arturo Franco, Fabrice van Teslaar
Collaborator: Diego Castellanos (interiors and site management)
Technical Architect: Salvador Baños
Client/Owner: Paz Fernandez/Tomas Rodríguez

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