15-01-2003

Antonio Arjona Torres: Two single-family dwellings in Las Matas, Spain 1999

Madrid,

Gallery, Sport & Wellness,

Glass,

The homes are built on a triangular lot where two streets converge only a few hundred meters from the centre of the town of Las Matas, near Madrid. The location is inevitably the project's most compromising factor and determines its composition.



Antonio Arjona Torres: Two single-family dwellings in Las Matas, Spain 1999 The noise from the street, the typical suburban setting, and the implicitly "public" value acquired become initial hypotheses developing an ambivalent attitude somewhere between will to expand and participate in the exterior space and the indispensable condition of protection and closure.

While the home is a place of comfort and security, developed around a centripetal, self-referencing system, the archetype of the home as refuge is replaced with an irreversibly centrifugal glass object in the ideal of modernity. This combination of extroversion and introversion becomes the engine driving the composition of the building, and is translated into a continuous reference to a tectonic, closed architecture on the one hand and a clearly lighter, more open form of architecture on the other.

The set of two buildings, which complement one another to a certain extent, is organised on the basis of the shape of the lot, accentuating its outstanding characteristic: the tip of the triangle, acting as a watershed, becomes the element characterising the project and the starting point for a crescendo which creates a certain degree of dynamism in the profile of the building through a process of articulation and breakdown of its parts.

The intention is obvious: the search for intimacy and segregation from the outside, implemented by a construction somewhat like a spiral, opposes the recurrent fractures in the walls which form its wrapper. Each room in the house seeks to continue outside the building, and the enclosed territory opens up to the outside in a number of directions. But fluidity of space is more than just a design mechanism: it is precisely through perception of what is outside that the protective qualities of the home make themselves felt. The inhabitant passively participates in what is going on around the home while feeling sheltered from it, and is transformed into an active player dominating the surroundings.

The project is thus transformed into a series of strategies permitting development of this dual attitude, combining a lightweight construction of steel, glass and wood with a more static brick and cement construction. The relationship between inside and out affects the distribution of different parts and accentuates its own special role. There is a dormitory-cabin protected by bands of dark wood which block the view from outside, and the sunlight, while offering a broad view over the surroundings. Thus the horizontal openings in the façade of white brick, though they look like small fissures from the outside, are actually large windows when seen from the inside: the filter permits protection and contributes to the private nature of the home while permitting surveillance of the outside. In other places the brise-soleil, translucent glass or surfaces used as screens permit this dual stratagem.

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