Office for Strategic Spaces (OSS) . photos: © Simona Rota . + archilovers

At the end of the 90’s, the family Abad Asensio started conversations with us to design a beach house they would use mainly for summer holidays and short weekends, which they would spend there with kids and friends.

It was a big family asking for a versatile house to be built with a very low budget. The greatest challenge, however, came from lazy and inappropriate urban regulations that favored a pattern of out of place copy-paste isolated houses while preventing, instead, the ‘patio house’ long traditional in the area and its inherent sustainability principles. With the Space Invader House we have tried to make sense of the dramatic pixilation of the real estate pressure on Cabo de Gata Natural Park, an area of great natural beauty on the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain. The plot was located within a new urban development area that has been growing from the ‘90s till now. Standardized banality has been the outcome of this process due to inadequate urban planning. OSS’ project had to serve as an escape from the neighboring urban landscape; it had to propose an alternative lifestyle and atmosphere. The project was also an attempt to design alternative solutions to the ‘patio house’ where modern urban regulations do not allow them. The house achieves all this by becoming a "Space Invader": First, the ground floor has no strict separations between living room, kitchen and garden, it is an open space designed as a large platform, a launch pad over which the second floor floats casting its welcome shadow… In a way, if it cannot be a ‘patio house’, it has transmuted into a ‘house patio’.

The other crucial strategy involves sharing the views to the sea from the top floor. Usually limited to the bedrooms facing the sea, we decided these should be evenly distributed among all the inhabitants, which we achieved by means of one large window in the main hallway, which doubles as the only shower, large enough to be used by several family members at a time. A curtain can be drawn inside, and the partitioned window acts as a partial filter to the outside. We’ve dealt with the low budget restrictions at different levels. We used very few construction systems and materials bring in some other virtues besides being cheap. Thus, the main construction material is lightweight ceramic insulating block, which creates a stable interior climate and soft acoustics. Small openings on the first floor create cool conditions in the summer. The top floor casts a shadow on the lower floor. A simple glass layer and polycarbonate doors separates it from the garden, which is entirely covered with deciduous vines. This hanging garden creates a shaded area in summer, but allows sun to hit the glass in winter and heat up the interior with little energy expense. A green roof adds to the temperature stabilization and insulation of the house. The result was a cheap house to build and also a sustainable use in time. But its greater subjective value lies in its beautiful views towards the sea, the enjoyment of the sun rising and setting while showering, the welcoming temperature and sound, the comfort given by the natural movement inside and around the house, the playful rays of light through the vines…

House Space Invader. Cabo de Gata. 2011
Project by: Office for Strategic Spaces
Author: Angel Borrego Cubero
Construction management: Angel Borrego Cubero, María José Lasaosa

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