Text description provided by the architects. The periscope house is a ruin rehabilitation of a protected village at the Alto Ampurdá, in Spain, to become a holiday residency.
An inhabitable roof lays on top of the recovered stone walls defining the volume and envelope of the house. In the interior the services are attached to the stone walls as a double skin to liberate the central space, which can be reconfigured in consonance with the different occupancies and uses desired: as a football field, night club or winter nest.
Two patios, whose geometry is shaped by sunlight and views, introduce light, ventilation and landscapes to the blind interior, becoming caleidoscopic domestic periscopes.
Three scales of nature are then implemented: the microscopic of the mosses of the stone walls, the virtual of the landscape reflections in the mirror glass and the spectacular views of the surroundings that can be enjoyed at the roof.
From a constructive point of view the house does not have road access, and therefore all materials required hand transport and manipulation, conditioning dimensions and constructive systems.
The strategies that articulate the project are:
- Another “rural”. The proposal is to keep as much as possible the existing ruin and to take the conservation regulations as rules of the game. In contrast with a kitch conservationism all its singularities are incorporated: the mosses of the stones, the tilted walls, etc, to reduce the intervention and construct a new material identity.
- Construction of desires. The brief has not been articulated around areas or material specifications, but around symbolic material from the client´s fictions. The house is then built as a compendium of built desires with their different specificities: a hut in the woods, a pond, framed landscapes, the smell of wood…
- Continuous performativity. To stimulate the requested flexibility the space is built as a container to be appropriated. The services are hidden, the furniture and divisions are mobile and rooms don´t have name neither owner, producing a spatial indefinition that promotes multiple ways of being. The domestic is understood as an action with nomad identity.
- Appropriation of technologies and landscapes. The geometry of the patios allows sunlight and ventilation control, and at the same time captures exterior landscapes through reflections. They become then caleidoscopic devices that blur the relationship between the interior and the exterior of the house, producing situations in which one is simultaneously in the mountains, the trees and the sky.
- Architecture as a disappearing strategy. As the exterior is protected and doesn´t have good visibility the project doesn´t have facades or a strategic point of view. Instead, everything is interior, built through reflections and activity.
- Agents integration. The house is conformed as an agents mediation space: each family member, their guests, their hobbies, their desires, the contractor, the location, the landscape, the weather, the wind.. all have their representation and are linked through various sociotechnic devices.
- Small and sustainable. The agency of “the small” is exploited: stone walls, ceramic tiles, sparkling concrete and other materials are touched and inhabited. Each corner is a microspace that can be activated. From another perspective, every strategy can be read in sustainable terms, as the heritage recuperation, the sunlight and ventilation passive control, the lack of excavation, the incorporation of renewable energies or the use of local materials and providers.
The periscope house is therefore constituted as an invisible shaker of landscapes, agents and desires, which is activated in each use.