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House in Torremocha

A Multiple Gaze at the Landscape

Ignacio Borrego

House in Torremocha
By Caterina Testa -

Just an hour north of Madrid, near the Lozoya and Jarama rivers, the southern slope of the Somosierra mountain range unfolds as a landscape of steep, rugged slopes and sweeping views.

Designing and building in such impervious, unspoiled territory implies contending with modifying the land, which is the very basis of architecture: a building, a house is not just a shell protecting us from sun and cold, it is a quasi-permanent transformation of the land, an adaptation of the land to make it comfortable and habitable for humans.

Topography, exposure and views were the key invariants to contend with when molding the residences that dot a wide slope zoned for new urbanization in this low-density subdivision of Los Tomillares, in the municipality of Torremocha. Among the houses that have already been built – sufficiently far apart to be out of view – Ignacio Borrego’s residential design made use of the steep slope to shape the living spaces, maximize usable horizontal surface area, and orient the visuals from the interior toward the south and its far-off views.

The single client was keen on a large, sufficiently flexible living space to accommodate possible future changes, and generous outdoor space for sports. Borrego translated these inputs into an interior/exterior living space spread across three
south-facing levels, intuitively conceived from a sectional drawing, a design device for controlling and setting up relations between this challenging topography and the new volumes under construction.

The client’s desire for plenty of outdoor space plus a soccer pitch, preferably separate, led to a sequence of retaining walls and terraces that creates horizontal platforms on which the habitable interior levels are arranged. The upper platform houses the main living spaces. Divided into three cantilevered volumes on the slope, it frames three different views out over the valley to the south. Solar...

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