Valdivieso Arquitectos transformed the site of a former water cistern near Madrid into a sculptural masterpiece of a single-family home. After a series of alterations, the two-level cistern site reached its final configuration in 1955. The south-facing structure sported an irregular floor plan, partial underground space, and connection to an outdoor patio with enormous potential. The architects retrofitted the cistern to create a cozy, yet elegant and modern private residence dubbed Casa Aljibe, leaving little trace of the building’s original purpose.
The architecture team, led by Alejandro Valdivieso, turned the former cistern into a home that fits seamlessly into its sparsely populated suburb of Alpredrete outside Madrid. The Casa Aljibe renovation features a sweeping curved facade of glass, overlooking a central patio. The upper level of the home is the new part of the build, created from cross-laminated timber made of large, multi-layered panels of spruce-pinefir (SPF) lumber. That level houses the common areas of the home: entryway, kitchen, and living/dining area.
The partially-buried lower level holds bedrooms and bathrooms in the section of the building that was once used as a warehouse. This aspect of the layout was a choice decision, due to the privacy offered by the sloping land. Even so, the architects toyed with the private spaces, flanking both bedrooms and bathrooms with large pane windows that blur the line between outside and in. The rear patio is accessible from the lower level as well, which provides outdoor space with privacy from a protective concrete wall and a corrugated shade roof.