Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Rufo House, Spain by Alberto Campo Baeza

AR House 2013 Highly Commended: An ethereal hut towards the sky and a massive cave embedded in the Iberian landscape epitomize Campo Baeza’s sensibility for tectonic and stereotomic architecture

Conceived as a weekend retreat and set on a hillside near the historic citadel of Toledo, the Rufo House is a starkly simple bar in the landscape. A long podium, 6m wide and 3m high, extends across the length of the site. All domestic functions are deployed in this elongated box made from rough concrete, giving it the muscular feel of a military or industrial structure (bunker, gun emplacement, fortress). Its architect, Alberto Campo Baeza, prefers to call it a ‘cave’.


The rough, tactile quality of the raw concrete plays off the precise, formal language of the architecture

The roughness of the concrete plays off a very precise and considered architectural language. Yet though it’s easy to label Baeza’s approach as ‘minimalist’, it is shaped by a more complex and sensual attitude to space, light and materiality. After all, this is a man who lined a bank headquarters with sheets of alabaster (AR August 2002). He relishes the way light moves, the colour or sheen of a particular stone, how built form relates to landscape. His buildings are rooted in the immemorial Iberian qualities of plainness, sobriety and impermeability (hermetic walls enclosing secret inner realms), all unsentimentally reframed for the modern age.


The concrete box is perforated, creating a series of objects and voids to accommodate various domestic activities. Here, life is lived in a linear enfilade of volumes and courtyards, alternately compressed and then exposed to the wider world through large glazed openings resembling vitrines or shop windows.


The concrete box is perforated by a series of courtyards, creating traditional patio-like spaces within the house


From this labyrinth residents can escape to a dining and gathering space set on top of the podium. A simple concrete canopy shelters a glass box, ‘the hut on top of the cave’, says Baeza. Ethereal and crystalline, it surveys the landscape like the transparent bridge of a warship. The jury applauded the project’s finesse and conviction, and how it cultivated a calm reciprocity with the landscape.





A glass pavilion sits astride the box, providing a vantage point from which to survey the surrounding landscape

Rufo House, Spain

Architect: Alberto Campo Baeza
Photographs: Javier Callejas

Related files

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.