French developer Christian Bourdais has enlisted eight architects to develop vacation homes on a 50-hectare nature reserve about two hours south of Barcelona. So far, so normal. However, each participant in the "Solo Houses" experiment was given what every architect dreams of (and hardly ever receives): carte blanche. The results, from the likes of Sou Fujimoto, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, are stunning. See them all after the break...
Casa Faustino / Didier Faustino
This 2,260 sq ft house by French-Portuguese architect Didier Faustino, better known for his experimental installations, consists of a star-burst of boxes, each one's large apertures drawing in light and framing a different view of the surrounding landscape.
According to Faustino, the "house presents itself as a shelter protected from the elements but turned towards its natural surroundings. Offering an exploded view on the landscape, the house receives the sunlight which is then refracted into its very center, thus creating a new experience of space: the wooden floors bring weightlessness to the body; traditional points of reference (up and down, right and left) vanish."
Casa Fujimoto / Sou Fujimoto
Very similar to his Serpentine Gallery Pavilion as well as, conceptually, to his House NA (although far more viscerally tree-house-like), Casa Fujimoto employs a nebulous latticework structure of timber in order to create a "geometric forest." The home features a glass structure as its core; according to Fujimoto, this is to provide protection while still maintaining a sense of open-ness to the elements, especially to light and wind. The wooden lattice also enables users to climb the structure like a tree to access a roof terrace that overlooks the valley.
The home designed by Los Angeles-based architects Johnston Marklee sits in the middle of an almond grove "like a singular object." All rooms are connected; sliding doors allow either for privacy or for the interior to become a completely open space. A roof terrace offers panoramic views as well as a swimming pool.
Casa Mos / MOS Architects
Casa Mos, by Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, exists off-the-grid, utilizing passive systems, such as solar chimneys for cooling. It consists of four structures, each shaped like an upside down T, each with a gardened roof terrace, placed among a natural march of vegetation.
A fifth structure "is inverted and has been embedded in the ground, becoming a pool," Meredith told CNN, "We are interested in a play between the towers as individual objects and as a group of things, the materiality of rough concrete offering an abstract tectonic scalelessness. It presents an image of a ruin, scattered rough concrete towers casually strewn within the landscape."
Casa Office KGDVS / Office Kersten Geers David van Severen
Brussels-based architects Kersten Geers and David Van Severen, inspired by winding their way upon the plateau of the site, designed a ring-shaped home (“as little house-like as possible”) that almost disappears into the landscape. The façades may be opened entirely, further abolishing the boundary between inside and outside.
Van Severen told CNN that the simplicity of the site served as inspiration: "It is not immediately about comfort, but maybe more about bare essence. The stunning nature of the place and the fact of the 'off-grid' condition of each Solo House brings things back to basics. This is what we liked as a start. You don't need lots of extras."
Casa Pezo / Pezo von Ellrichshausen
The first house to be built, and purchased, is Casa Pezo by Chilean architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen. The home, a sculptural and monolithic structure, consists of an elevated "perimeter ring, a panoramic rotunda" divided by 16 columns and occupied by a sequence of rooms (however, the only "interior" room has no roof). The rooms overlook an open-air courtyard with a swimming pool, "a volume of water as deep as the height that separates the house from the natural ground."
"This Solo experiment is in between art and architecture," Pezo told CNN, "It might sound pretentious but, as an intention, this initiative is an optimistic attempt at somehow stating a confidence in the power of pure architecture."
For those interested, potential buyers can tour the Pezo House the weekend of April 5th and 6th and June 14th.
Images of houses by Studio Mumbai (India) and TNA Takei-Nabeshima-Architects (Japan) soon to be released...