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House on cliffside

Fran Silvestre Arquitectos

House on cliffside
By Caterina Testa -

The cliffs at Calpe near Alicante, Spain would not seem to offer space for anything other than what is already there: rocks, sky, sea and Mediterranean shrub land. The harsh impervious terrain seems neither to require nor permit change or addition. Yet the architecture placed here seems to have been there forever. The Mediterranean-style lines and volumes do not mar but enhance this natural beauty spot.
The essential geometries of this compact, sleek, uncompromisingly white volume speak a language familiar to Álvaro Siza, Souto de Moura and Campo Baeza. The building slips effortlessly into context, a distinctive feature on the landscape but one that never flaunts its bravura.
Solidly rooted in its rocky niche, the building seems to spring from the ground it rests on. A three-dimensional system of horizontal surfaces and structural walls anchors it to the steep rocky terrain. The structural walls and surfaces also create the different functional spaces of this three-level residence that adapts to the three descending levels of cliff as it plunges to the sea. On the intermediary level, an access road bordered by an inclined wall standing off from the rock face leads to the lower garage level where the distribution circuit to the upper levels also begins.
Still on the intermediary level, a terrace adjoins an infinity pool on a level with the dusty sun-baked terrain.
Stark white walls make the built volume dazzle in the sun. The side of the building is broken only by two dark openings leading to other areas of the house: the lower level and distribution core; and the upper level, reached by an outer staircase running up against the central structural wall and leading to the living areas.
This central load-bearing wall supports the upper residential volume and open solarium on the opposite side to form a composition as simple as it is iconic.
Reaching out towards the sea like giant binoculars, the residential volume provides...

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