Text description provided by the architects. Situated next to the river Tajo, the city of Toledo, a World Heritage Site since 1986, is home to Mudéjar architectural gems, Islamic art, Roman ruins and renaissance, and baroque works. The Belvedere House is located on the southern slope of Toledo's historic town centre, in one of the areas seen in one of the most emblematic views of the city.
One of the main challenges was how to integrate contemporary architecture into an area with such an important historical tradition, in a way that meant the end result would also have a big presence in the city. "...it was a case of striking a balance between respecting the historical context but, at the same time, maintaining the features of a contemporary property."
The project sits on a small plot of land with a façade measuring 8m and depth of 13m. It is accessed from a steep winding street. The property is situated at the end of the street. Inside the plot there is a "patio" on the longitudinal side that allowed us to create a false façade offering impressive views of the surroundings and giving it optimum lighting and ventilation.
The front of the property takes advantage of the very steep street, named "Cuesta del Can", by having two entrances to the property. The first entrance, a porch at the front of the property, is on the ground floor of the building and has direct access to the "patio". There is also a small apartment on this level for guests.
The second entrance is on the first floor of the building and is the most convenient entrance when returning from the city centre. This floor has bedrooms and a small study. From there, you can go up to the top floor which has an open-plan kitchen diner, and living room, the entire length of which leads onto a terrace (loggia style), offering a framed view of the countryside and protecting the interior of the south side of the property from too much exposure to the sun. It is also the most distinctive feature of the property.
There is a direct line of sight from one entrance to the other inside the property through a transparent glass wall, which aims to open up the small entrance area and allow natural light to shine in through the lattice to the ground floor.
In terms of construction, the building sits on a concrete perimeter foundation, all of which is structural. Sometimes it acts like an edge beam for the pile caps and others like a retaining wall to counter the earth pressure from the perimeter, street and foundation of the neighbouring buildings. As a result, we were presented with very poor construction conditions.
The foundation supports a number of load-bearing walls that became small pillars on the south side of the property. Designed with attention to detail and clever use of the materials available, this property is a piece of contemporary, relaxed and modest architecture.