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House in Pinar de Castellanos

Carlos Casanueva

House in Pinar de Castellanos
By Redazione The Plan -

Designed by Carlos Casanueva, the Venera House is a highly unusual building. Standing in a pine forest clearing in Santander, northeast Spain, it seeks to reconcile opposites, namely, combine the essentially provisional nature of non-urban living with a sense of permanence like the age-old trees all around. Similarly, the building stands out in its forest clearing but at the same time blends with its surrounds. Extensive, full-height lights on the southern elevation are a diaphanous diaphragm between interior and exterior, with just a covered veranda to act as go-between. In contrast, the three bedrooms on the north side are more secluded, their smaller elongated windows set into an opaque wall. As well as combining opposites on a more philosophical plane, the house also contrasts materials and colours. The smooth textured outer cladding comprises starkly contrasting white limestone and slabs of conglomerate invented by the architect using a mix of cement, silicate and pigments to obtain a rusty-red “oxidized artificial stone”. The two distinct volumes making up the building are further examples of melded opposites: a parallelepiped with rounded edges and flat roof fits into another, sloped-roofed volume with rounded, prevalently opaque forms. In plan the two units are very different: rectangular to the south, and U-shaped on the north side. Inside, spaces and environments interweave, unified by ubiquitous white laminated wood flooring and gypsum clad walls. Kitchen and living area form a continuum along a north-south axis, light streaming in from the large windows. A narrow corridor running centrally through the length of the house clearly separates the functional areas while at the same time serving as a line of conjunction between the two volumes. Technically and formally, the building’s main feature is its layered envelope: a beam frame visible on the inside supports a ventilated infill chamber comprising gypsum board, thermal insulation, metal sheet...

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