Subarquitectura team have designed a house inspired by “the shapes skaters make, like those of gymnasts, as artistic as they are precise”. It was also intended to offer many solutions to the questions of how to live on the sloping site, or perhaps anywhere. Physically, the house’s spiraling trajectory draws the visitor into a vortex that is not immediately comprehensible from the front door, with living spaces proceeding along the curve. These were designed to meet the needs of an imaginary family, dreamt up by the client and consisting of an educated couple with two young children. The proposed inhabitants were meant to inspire a practical programme of spaces and functions, but were also envisioned as the kind of people who might be enticed, rather than put off, by unorthodox form. That form was determined by a combination of the practical and the possible. The site was an open plot on the steep slope that offered glorious views of the mountains around Madrid. The design answers to both the gradient and the desire to maximize those views. As the architects explain, “these two concepts [the slope and the views] were overlaid with our obsession with loops and the continuity and fluidity of the spaces”. This fluidity was manifest in a shape, “which rotates 360 degrees as it descends, looking for the best views at the top, while floating over the plot, and being braced on the ground”. The impression, from the outward plan is of a single, spiraling procession of spaces, yet the design offers surprising variation. The architects devised what they call the “short house” and the “long house”. The former provides a direct passage, via a staircase, from the entrance to the lower-level living area. This is a more public route for guests that bypasses the private spaces through to the outdoors. The longer journey winds through the entire length of the structure (some 80 metres), emptying out to the linear release of the swimming pool terrace. This path, organized so that “the degree of intimacy is higher as you get farther from the extreme [ends] of the house”, descends softly along the ramped corridor past the bedrooms and contains at its centre the mediatheque, isolated from the views, reveling in darkness. However, even the “long” loop can be interrupted: in addition to the main entrance/exits through the garage and living room (at either end of the house) there is additional access at the side of the main hall, and from the kitchen and dining room. Rather than consider only domestic spaces in their search for solutions to the site, the architects researched highly practical approaches in different areas: engineering works, motorway intersections, other projects in which a change of direction drove the plan. But they were also interested in “the poetic”, those skaters’ loops. The artful curve, however, also generates the greatest quantity of linear space toward the remarkable view. But beyond the practical, the intersections of descending space, anchored solid and a suspended, “floating” curve, give the house a sense of the surreal. From outside, the dark slate which bestows a reptilian texture to the curves, sets it firmly within the hillside, so the air between the ground and the upper curve becomes somewhat incongruous. There is a feeling both of linear weight and of a springing coil. Materially, the construction is also embedded into the landscape: the black slate used on the cladding, and which brings such solidity to the seemingly untethered design, comes from the local area. The ground was a strong, rocky substrate which made the building of the concrete slabs relatively easy, according to the architects. Some people may find the idea of a looping house somehow too definitive of a certain kind of living, more so than the box-like forms we’ve become accustomed to. But the architects here feel the form is quite literally open-ended. If not a dream house, it is certainly a gesture of free thinking.