Garoza House in Ávila, Spain by Herreros Arquitectos
Runner up: Built in a day, the prefabricated, prototypical Garoza House treads lightly on rocky Spanish terrain
Second homes on rural sites are usually conceived as experiential counterpoints to the dislocation and sensory overload of city life. Yet though the notion of the restorative idyll is seductively pervasive, this compact house, placed lightly and quickly in the landscape of central Spain, represents a contrary view: that nature is not necessarily in opposition to the city, but orchestrates different sorts of stimuli, no less intense and varied than the urban milieu.
Designed by Madrid-based Herreros arquitectos, the Garoza House rises up from the ground on a raft supported by pilotis, creating a distinct artificial datum in the rocky terrain.
Rather than being an embedded structure with its roots implanted in the earth, it disturbs the site as little as possible and squarely confronts the horizon, both as viewing platform and functional shelter. Here, architecture is efficiently distilled to a metal skinned, quasi-industrial object in the landscape; a simple and economic armature for experiencing the elements, rather than a means of keeping them at a distance.
Capable of expanding to meet its users’ needs and interests, the Garoza House is an industrialised, modular prototype. This first phase is designed around a large double-height volume that functions as a living, dining and cooking space. Corners, mezzanines and transition spaces become places for storage, working and sleeping.
At 3m wide, the size of the basic module is dictated by the limits of road transport. All the building systems, as well as fixed furniture and internal partitions, are integrated into the prefabricated modules. These simply slot together on site and are finished by an external layer of ribbed metal cladding, while internal walls are lined with flakeboard. The entire construction process takes a mere 12 hours and the structure can be removed equally quickly, with negligible impact on its surroundings.
In its reliance on increasingly sophisticated techniques of prefabrication, there are clear overtones of the pioneering Californian Case Study Houses, which took domestic systems building into an optimistic new era. But the project is also informed by contemporary notions of sustainability, and the challenge of how to impinge lightly on the earth. The jury admired its elegant economy, the evident quality of its execution, and how it established a clear eyed and admirably unsentimental relationship with nature.
Watch the construction video
Architect: Herreros Arquitectos
Structure/facade: Arval - ArcelorMittal
Aluminium frames: Alumafel
Photographs and video: Javier Callejas Sevilla