The X House project aims to solve by the definition of a system, language, or even through a unique form, a number of enquiries that arise when we consider the given site: how to protect and give transcendence to an impressive pine, which is located on the top of the site and makes access to the house extremely complex from the street; how to avoid deciding between the views of the sea and those of the mountains, allowing both to be viewed in opposite directions; how to neutralize through from the presence of the adjacent buildings in order to create a feeling of isolation; how to allow quality views from both the front and the rear of the house; how to address so many requirements with a simple movement that answers all of the previous aims without prioritizing nor explicitly formulating a response to any of them.
The form, a unique form, is the result of a long process of search for individual answers to each of those challenges; thus, the form is not a priori, but an effort to give a unitary response which satisfies each of these stipulations.
The X House is also a constructive exploration – a technique regularly used in infrastructural construction such as bridges and tunnels is here developed to meet the architectural scale, aiming to incorporate efficiency and reduce construction costs. The use of a mixed technique based on the application of high-density concrete allows the material to be projected using high pressure to a single-sided formwork, and to acquire substantial structural resistance in extremely short periods of time.
Thus, it is possible to project continuous 6m high walls without the need to use a two-sided formwork (which would be the regular construction procedure). The house is therefore a living expression of a specific technique, and contains in its skin the diverse and continuous knowledge acquired within the process of construction.
The house is located on the upper part of a hill in Cabrils, in the outskirts of Barcelona. The site, with remarkable views and a vast slope, is accessed from a single street located at its highest point. The location of the house within the site responds to the aim to minimize excavation and optimize, where possible, the use of the non-occupied land.
Set back two meters from the street, the project seeks to anchor itself within the site whilst blending in to its surroundings through the use of blank walls; the project clearly prioritizes the façades and views of the valley.
The house has two floors. The top floor, beyond incorporating a parking and allowing the access to the house, is conceived as a private suite of the owners – main room with closet and washroom/toilet, and spacious studio. On the lower floor there is a clear distinction between the front and the rear of the house.
The front area has a totally open and public nature, comprised of a living area in a double high space next to a kitchen/dining room articulated around a significant marble table, 8m long. The rear part of the lower floor holds the rooms and service areas, through which the patios are given direct and protected views of the valley, the sea and the mountain.
The X House uses form to combine spaces of very different nature and provide them with an individual character, always incorporating landscape as the primary consideration. Beyond the effective spatial arrangement at the front of the house, the views are the protagonist in each space.
Learning from Dan Graham’s reflections, the image of the sea is always present when observing the mountain, and the mountain appears as a reflection when looking at the sea: a perceptive quality that enriches the experience of the house.
Architects: Cadaval & Sola-Morales
Location: Cabrils, Barcelona.
Building engineer: Joaquin Peláez
Structural Engineer: Carles Gelpí
Collaborators : Bruno. Pereira, Pamela Díaz De León, Daniela Tramontozzi, Manuel Tojal
Photographs: Sandra Pereznieto, Santiago Garcés, Iwan Baan