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A bucolic Spanish beauty built from the bones of a derelict cow shed
Working with the natural environment instead of against it, a brother-sister architecture team transform a crumbling cow stable in rural Spain into a solar- and hydro-powered family retreat.
You know how it goes — another week, another video tour of a lovely and unlikely low-impact dwelling from Kirsten Dirksen and the gang over at faircompanies …
While another recent faircompanies video profiling the work of rural Oregon-based DIY treehouse wizard Michael Garnier (enter requisite Ewok village comparisons here) has made quite the splash around the interwebs over the past week or so, it’s another featured project, this one in the Portugal-abutting, wildlife-heavy province of Cáceres in western Spain, that’s much more my speed (many less stairs involved).
Breathing spectacular new life into an abandoned cattle stable, Carlos Alonso and his sister Camino of Madrid-based architecture firm Ábaton Architecture created an off-the-grid family retreat that may look like what it once was, a dilapidated cow shed, from the outside but inside is a distinctly modern and comfortable (and dare I say, luxurious) residence. It’s one of the more intriguing, beautifully executed instances of adaptive reuse that I’ve seen in some time. Added bonus: the home boasts some truly magical interior and exterior water features which I'll let you discover for yourself.
Preserving much of original stone structure that’s naturally camouflaged and truly appears to disappear into the hilly, cow-spotted terrain that surrounds it, the Alonsos added both solar (summer) and hydro (winter) power systems to the home along with numerous unfussily modern interior flourishes using cement, iron, glass, and locally sourced materials. A system of large exterior wooden shutters — “a second skin” — were also added to promote solar heat gain while the home’s water supply, provided by two unblemished mountain springs that pass directly through the house, is a joyously low-tech marvel. Overall, the home is a rather stark affair but that's kind of the point. Carlos explains, “We wanted the house to look completely look like part of the environment from the outside but we’re devoted to modern architecture so we wanted the interior to be completely modern.”
Before I leave you with this must-watch video, a quote from the Alfonos to contemplate: “People from the country know a lot. They take from nature and their experience in nature, since it accompanies them and helps them to survive, and they work with nature, not against it.”
Video screenshot: faircompanies/Youtube