Light, sun and breathtaking views: these are the essential ingredients that never change when describing an ideal home by the sea. Whether atop a cliff or by the shore, enjoying a gentle breeze or an impressive sunset, and varying in type or style, seaside houses have always been a perfect subject for the most inventive architectural exploration and designers' creativity. Today's trends opt for fluid and dynamic spaces, with a preference for traditional elements and continuity between indoors and out, so as to bring in the stunning landscape as the undisputed star.
So here we focus on the new trends shaping seaside homes: starting from Bosc d’en Pep Ferrer, an innovative house in Formentera, we stop off at Villa Cala di Volpe, on the Abbiadori headland in Sardinia, and then travel on to Casa Fly, in Mallorca, to round off at Villa Topos, atop a limestone hill plunging down into the Aegean Sea.
Bosc d'en Pep Ferrer is the long-established name of a spot near Migjorn Beach, on the south coast of the island of Formentera. It is also a place responding to the desire to live in a dreamlike landscape, with the horizon cut by the silhouette of the Pi des Català tower, built in 1763.
Architect Marià Castelló's design pivots on the juxtaposition between heavy and light elements, between land and air. This same contrast is reflected in the combination of handicrafts with technology. Rock is a key aspect in the concept and features throughout the project, making the spaces look as if they were shaped from a single large block of stone.
The design develops through three well-lit modules built using a dry construction system, plus a cavity introduced to subtract matter on the lower floor. This horizontal layout generates a succession of solids and voids, patios, walkways and unexpected views. Yet what really marks the identity of the edifice is the cave in the main access courtyard, which the architects integrated during the construction phase since its existence remained concealed until this time.
As a whole the building is very simple: the bottom floor is entirely without retaining walls, given the presence of the layer of rock, while a reinforced concrete structure makes up the ground floor support platform. On the upper floor, appearing like a real-scale model, the structure framework has intentionally been left visible: a single element (cross-laminated timber panelling) brings various functions together, these being the structure, the roofing and the interior finishes.
The eco-friendly approach is interesting and uses natural and ‒ when possible ‒ local materials: rock, gravel from the excavation, limestone, pine and fir wood, recycled cotton panels, Macael white marble and high-permeability silicate paint. In addition, the interiors have been fitted with passive bioclimatic systems of proven effectiveness, especially in climate conditions of this type, while water self-sufficiency has been ensured through installation of a tank for collecting rainwater.
Beauty is never static or unequivocal. It changes in time and space on the basis of the articulated and intense relationships between humans, nature, architecture and traditions. Located on the Sardinian headland of Abbiadori, Villa di Cala Volpe ‒ designed inside and out by Fabio Mazzeo Architects ‒ brings all these elements together in a sculpture-like dwelling that respects its natural setting, even disappearing into it with a wind-swept profile.
Connections between the home and its setting are everywhere, both inside and out, with windows that let in the blue of the sky and the sea, furnishings in pastel tones, and floral textures that embellish the interior.
Art, design and craftsmanship are combined in the villa in measured, subtle ways, and in different contexts created by the interplay of light and shade throughout the day. This home emerged from a holistic approach to architecture, Fabio Mazzeo explained. His further comment can be read here along with a full description of the design.
History, tradition, local materials, and an intimate connection with its location: Casa Fly in Palma de Mallorca ‒ designed by BEEF Architekti ‒ incorporates all this, making it a special place for setting out on discovery of the Spanish island.
For any visitor unfamiliar with the culture and history of Mallorca and the Mediterranean, there’s a special corner of the island that’s an ideal place to start exploring the area and its traditions: Casa Fly. This home in fact pays tribute to the natural beauty and history of the Spanish island through the skilled use of local materials and by creating close visual and physical connections with the surrounding landscape.
Drawing on time-honoured construction techniques, the design studio has made local stone ‒ a material contributing significantly to the entire island's identity ‒ a feature both inside and on the exterior of the edifice. One of these techniques is Pedra en Sec ‒ or 'dry stone', a building method that UNESCO has recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2018. The stone and the way it is arranged are not only used for its appearance but also for its construction and insulation properties: it brings temperature balance to the interiors, helping to keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter.
An important contributor to ventilation and lighting in the home is its full-height glazing, which is set back from the façade front and is fitted with folding wooden shutters. Placing these windows towards the interior of the structure has enabled creation of shaded areas, similar to the effect also brought by the shutter slats. As well as providing passive protection against the heat, these shutters allow natural ventilation even when closed.
How can an attractive ‒ also aesthetically ‒ edifice with a natural ventilation system be achieved on a rocky outcrop? One example is provided by Villa Topos. Designed by Alper Derinboğaz, this home stands on a limestone hill in Paşalimanı Bay, in the Çeşme area of Izmir, Turkey.
The building offers a unique panorama within the Aegean landscape: the bay extends round like a natural arena bustling with interest. By placing the staircase to the rear, the architect could leave the 'stage' open to nature and provide a dynamic view. Hence the staircase acts like a cinema camera panning vertically to capture unhindered shots of the bay.
Alper Derinboğaz immediately introduced natural ventilation in the design for Villa Topos. His goals: to draw on the air flow to expel excess heat from inside the building, to provide greater temperature comfort, and to reduce the cooling needed, also to reach minimal operational costs. The result is that Villa Topos is the first air-conditioned summer home of its kind in the region. The wind-catcher chimneys with roof vents have been built to avoid use of any energy to cool or heat the home, and they create a natural ventilation flow throughout the edifice.
Bosc d’en Pep Ferrer
Location: Playa de Migjorn, Formentera, Spain
Architect: Marià Castelló Martínez
Building Engineer: Agustí Yern Ribas
Structures: Miguel Rodríguez Nevado, Ferran Juan
Construction company: Motas Proyectos e Interiorismo S.L. / Luis Tulcanazo Castro / Antonio Serra Requena / Foreva S.L.
Photography courtesy of Marià Castelló Martínez
Other projects (Villa di Cala Volpe, Casa Fly, Villa Topos)
Please refer to the individual links as indicated in the article above to look through the project's credits