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Zafra-Uceda House

No.Mad Arquitectos Eduardo Arroyo

Zafra-Uceda House
By Francesco Pagliari -

Poised on the edge of a golf course in Aranjuez, Spain, the Zafra-Uceda house enjoys an isolated position commanding sweeping views across low-lying hills framed by a distant mountain chain. Eduardo Arroyo of NO.MAD Arquitectos developed a complex architectural programme. One theme investigated is how the building relates to its environment. His answer is a series of meticulously devised visual angles, or “sights”, through which to view the outside from within. Outdoor abstract sculptural elements have been placed in the direct line of vision of these vistas. Both inside and out, Arroyo uses a mix of lines and polygonal figures, generating what he has called “excited parallelepipeds”. The house stands assertively, a striking two-storey parallelepiped. Yet an overhanging upper storey and apparent voids set into the volume produce contrasting effects. On the one hand, the building seems solidly rooted to the ground; on the other, it is a vibrating mass of evanescent, almost immaterial volumes. The voids created by the upper storey overhangs become sheltered yet open parking areas; enclosed upper-storey terraces are hidden from the outside. These opposing aspects are further emphasized by strikingly different façades. The east wall is opaque and dense, the pattern of the rectangular panels overlaid by graffiti echoing the crooked geometry of the rest of the building. The west wall is pierced by large variable-size openings, their forms a combination of star and cross. Deep in the hollows of these gouged out shapes, small windows offer carefully calibrated views onto the outside world. On the south side, the theme is immateriality, achieved by a varied-geometry, metal-mesh outer envelope supported by a metal frame. Operable units are placed on the central axis. This ‘virtual’ façade protects the building from direct sunlight and - adds the architect - stray golf balls! Behind the shelter of the metal mesh lies the wide terrace accessed from the studio and main bedroom,...

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