La Zagaleta House

by Peter Thomas de Cruz
La Zagaleta House Peter Thomas de Cruz

This spectacular contemporary house occupies a hillside site inland from the coast of southern Spain. The brainchild of the developers, the house challenges the orthodoxy of much of the recent pseudo-vernacular development in the area with calm, flowing spaces, a considered response to topography and climate and simplicity in detail.
With stunning views across a valley towards distant mountains in the west, this largely single aspect house uses the slope of the site to maximum advantage. The core of the house is a top lit double height gallery flooded with natural light that runs across the slope of the site. The prime living spaces are on the west side of the gallery whilst to the east ancillary accommodation and cooling courtyards are set into the hillside. All of the full height glazed facades parallel with the slope open fully to allow air to pass through the building, making the most of anabatic and katabatic winds. The cross ventilation, combined with large cantilevered roof overhangs and balconies which provide solar shading, reduces the reliance on air conditioning and extends the opportunity for comfortable open air living.
From the entrance of the house an elliptical curved wall on the westerly side peels away from the main axis, widening the gallery and pulling you towards a double height window at the end, progressively revealing a single mountain peak in the distance. Punched holes in the gallery wall give glimpses of mountain views to the west across the series of interconnected open plan living spaces. The end of the gallery culminates in a large double height living space that leads towards a disappearing edge swimming pool which projects out into space. At first floor level, a bridge open on both sides overlooking the main living space leads to the master bedroom suite, which is connected to a private study below by a spiral staircase wrapped within the ‘tail’ of the curved wall.
Adding to the sense of spectacle the house is dramatically cut in two perpendicular to the gallery with a glass-floored dining space bridging the gap between the two halves and linking the cooking space to the living space. The parallel gallery sits astride an internal pool and, when all the glazing is fully retracted, both the gallery and the dining space become bridges fully open to the air. The calmness of the house is accentuated by water flowing from the gallery courtyard pool down over a slate-finished waterfall beneath the dining room to meet the lowest of the two connected swimming pools.

Photos by: Simon Collins
Source: Contemporist

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