Spain : Olivos House by Balzar Arquitectos


Architects : Balzar Arquitectos 
Photos  ©  David Zarzoso

Balzar Arquitectos :

Olivos House /Area: 265 m²/ is a fusion of environment, client, and architecture.
 The history of its inhabitants is peculiar and has a strong connection to the town. Quesa
 is a region in the interior of Valencia, a small Mediterranean village with Arab origins.
 The owners, originally from Barcelona, had spent several summers in the region
during their childhood. When revisiting the town, they reconnected with the
 people and the environment, and thus begins the story of Olivos House.

The aim of the project : The aim of this project is to adapt to the surroundings, to appropriate the land and to blend into the existing web of olive trees to take full advantage of what they bring to the site. It aims to be guided by a linear perspective that draws attention to the landscape using architectural resources to showcase it. Large windows and porches create views that overlook the fields and the sunset.

The plot is located on the outskirts of the town's urban area and serves as a link between the built and the rural. It is the last urban olive field on the outskirts of the municipality, making it a great project opportunity.

The one-story house is completely integrated with the environment through various architectural resources. First, three courtyards that look to the sky, the olive trees and at the same time provide privacy. Second, a large porch, characteristic of the Mediterranean culture and warm climates, which protects from the heat of the west and functions as a transition between the interior and exterior. Third, a large longitudinal platform with a pool that extends to the olive field and has spectacular sunset views. Finally, large windows that connect the access, garden, and courtyards with all interior spaces of the house.

The project stands out for its connection between the interior and exterior. All interior spaces visually connect with the spectacular field of olives, so characteristic in the region. Thus, magical visuals, connections, and lights and shadows are generated, with the olive field always being the protagonist of the house. 

This connection is different in each room. The day space and access directly connect with the porch and platform through a large motorized glass. The suite bedroom, with its respective service bathrooms, connects to the outside through two more private courtyards

Water has a strong presence in the house. The outdoor pool is semicircular at one end and is semi-covered by a dome. It enters the porch and extends through the olive field, which is the house's garden. The spa with an indoor pool, showers in the bathrooms next to large windows and outdoor showers, makes the house an experience. Both pools have a temperature regulation system that allows bathing in any season of the year.

A very unique component of the project is the materials, colors, and textures. Terracotta tones predominate on the floor and facade, seeking to harmonize with the environment. Exotic marbles such as Iranian travertine, brass, and olive green carpentry contrast and fill the space with a unique atmosphere in tune with the place.

The site is on the border where the urban centre of Quesa meets the dry fields so characteristic of the region. The house takes on this sense of boundary, as it forms the link between urban and rural. On the one side, the entire length of the house is aligned with the front façade, following the urban design of Quesa and in harmony with the type of houses found in the town. At the same time, it nestles into the rural surroundings with its patios that embrace the olive trees and a broad platform that reinforces the linear perspective towards the horizon.

The patio : Historically, traditional Mediterranean architecture revolves around a patio, and is closed to the street. It delimits its open-air spaces with a clear boundary formed by walls of different heights that adapt to the land and surroundings, and can open when needed.

Through three patios – one providing access and two more private ones leading from the rooms – we can convert the garden into a much better adapted space for people. In addition, the patios embrace the olive trees and allow the ideal light, ventilation and privacy for the internal rooms. In short, the patio makes the olive trees and the ample grounds form part of the house, and therefore part of how people live there.

The house was carried out with the Steel Frame structural system. An innovative system inspired by the construction system widely used in the United States "Balloon Frame," which allows for faster and cleaner construction. The material used is a galvanized steel profile, which functions as the house's load-bearing structure and also forms the facade and interior partitions. In addition, to save the great light that exists in the day space, which has 18m in length, a large metal truss is arranged.

Energy efficiency was paramount in conceiving the project. The house meets "Passivhaus" standards and has minimal energy consumption. Passive Houses are characterized by particularly high levels of comfort with very low energy consumption. This is mainly achieved through the application of environmentally efficient principles: high-performance windows, adequate ventilation, insulation, tightness, and reduced thermal bridge design.

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