Architect Guillem Carrera faced multiple challenges regarding the placement, orientation and composition of this family home in Catalonia, known as Casa 22 Avellaners. The solution? Smart, passive design.
The neighborhood sits among old monastery buildings and architecture of historical relevance, such as the stone bridge, Gothic cross, small Baroque church of Santa Llúcia and the old modernist cooperative winery. Down the road is the natural wonder of Alameda de Santes Creus. Casa 22 Avellaners was originally built as part of an urban expansion project meant to support the monastery’s needs and provide residential housing.
Carrera began the design process by analyzing the houses adjacent to the lot. On one side, the home is large and fills the dimensions of the parcel in both height and footprint. On the other side, the home is lower and more spread out. This inspired the architect to frame the home for optimal views and natural light. As it sits, the result is views to the mountains to the east, second-floor views above the house to the north, and a western view out to the street.
With the orientation configured, the design then focused on creating a staggered volume that would match and blend in with the surrounding architectural elements. An additional goal was to connect with the outdoor environment at every level of the home. This was achieved through passive design elements, including an open floorplan between and within levels of the home.
The use of concrete, light-colored wood, steel and natural paint colors brightens the space. A spiral staircase connecting the spaces is a central element to the design, optimally located for convenience and to accentuate the open feel even through the multi-level floorplan. The staircase also acts as an architectural element, mirroring the tall, vertical profile of the home.
A skylight, along with copious and well-placed windows, floods the home with natural light. The 2,583-square-foot space includes an open kitchen, garage, bedroom, bathrooms, living room, dining room, study, play area and multi-purpose room.
The lowest level opens into a backyard garden area, and the upper levels benefit from terraces. When possible, locally sourced natural materials, such as lime mortar and ceramic tile, were used to avoid lengthy transport. With a similar focus on minimalist and streamlined elements, the interior design centers on practicality, comfort and warmth.
The architect reports, “When designing this house, energy efficiency was a premise. This has been achieved through passive solar architecture solutions and indirect light detection which, together with the building system itself and an exhaustive study of the composition of the different skins of the building and its thermal behavior, have [earned] this house an energy certification A.”
Images via Guillem Carrera Architecture