THE TREE

MAG

Consuelo by Roberto Di Donato Architecture

ARCHITECT:

Roberto Di Donato Architecture

WORDS:

Roberto Di Donato Architecture

PHOTO:

Joao Morgado

YEAR:

2017

LOCATION:

Valencia, Spain

 

When visiting Consuelo for the first time, it was impossible for the client not to fall in love with the amazing location and the breathtaking views over the Sierra Calderona Nature Reserve. Totally immersed in its natural surroundings and at the same time only 25 minutes away from Valencia’s city center, this hidden gem was almost perfect to become the setting of the client’s relaxing getaway from chaotic city life.
Unfortunately, the existing house was the typical case of “architecture without architect”. Traditional construction methods were in harmony with the environment, but the layout evidenced a very poor use of space and was totally disconnected from the beautiful landscape surrounding the property.
The main living area and the two small bedrooms were located on the north side of the property, whereas the south façade with its amazing views was blocked by the kitchen, a bathroom and a staircase leading to the roof level. Only a single south facing window was overlooking the natural reserve.
Moreover, the lack of an outdoor space at house level added to a sense of frustration, forcing a descent through a steep staircase to connect with the exterior space.
For the architect Roberto Di Donato, it was clear from the beginning that the main priority of the project was to open up the house to the landscape, providing unobstructed views from the living room and master bedroom. The second priority was the introduction of a swimming pool and the creation of generous outdoor spaces that improved the connection between the house and the surrounding landscape.

To achieve these goals, the project quite literally “inverts” the layout of the property, replacing the previous living area with two new bedrooms and two bathrooms. The new master bedroom has been located on the southside and the main south-facing window has been widened to reveal the perfect semicircular shape of its original arch.
Next to it, the staircase that previously obstructed the south façade has been relocated to the eastern side of the house and substituted with a glass sliding door and a new terrace at house level.

The new terrace and the concrete staircase leading to the garden are supported by a structural element serving different functions at the same time. It is framing the landscape and housing the barbecue area at terrace level, and it is defining a more intimate outdoor sitting area at garden level. In direct contact with the new swimming pool and amongst existing rocks, cactuses and an outdoor fireplace, this space feels deeply connected with nature.
The project was carried out with the clear intention of preserving the character of the existing fabric and in full respect of the landscape. The main driver behind the design was the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

White render and concrete floors are the only construction materials employed, creating bright spaces and enhancing the natural colours of the landscape. Also, the new swimming pool was kept modest in scale and the internal finish was carefully chosen to generate a more natural water colour. As a result, this project radically transformed the house revisiting its vernacular appearance in a contemporary key that fosters harmony with the surrounding landscape.

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