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Atrium House

Fran Silvestre Navarro

Two houses by Valencia architect Francisco Silvestre Navarro in different geographical locations: one in the mountainous region of Ayora in the hinterland of Valencia, the other in Godella near the Mediterranean coast. Both these large detached family homes are very explicit architectural statements about how space may be defined and how an architecture may relate to the environment. Both are striking buildings that elicit reflection. The geometries are uncompromising: seemingly simple linear volumes where efficient spatial use goes hand in hand with a formal rigueur. Backed up against a sheer cliff under a castle, the house in Ayora is set amongst traditional buildings and the rocky terrain. The frontage giving onto the road makes no attempt to blend with its neighbours. Neither material nor form makes any concessions to the historical site. The building fits like a wedge into the natural incline, its limestone plastered walls dazzling in the light. The three storeys are placed one on top of the other in slight skewed fashion. They expand upward to the top floor where the living area broadens out to include the master bedroom, study, living and kitchen. Here an imposing glazed wall opens out onto a large terrace enclosed by bare walls beyond which rise the jagged rocks of the surrounding landscape. The style is one of tightly controlled restraint. A compact volume, it combines sharp edges, right angles and oblique lines. Everything seems poised between introversion and extroversion, between thick imposing walls and openings giving glimpses of the natural landscape beyond. The sides of the house open onto the outside through glazed lights that, however, become practically assimilated into the walls when the sliding blinds are pulled across. A second-level recessed loggia on the façade facing the road allows light to penetrate into the interior. The single ramp staircase between the floors is a pivotal feature. Its sculptured geometry stands out to great effect in...

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