Author: Rafael Gomez-Moriana

Disappearing Act: Empúries Visitor Reception Centre by Fuses-Viader Arquitectes

Empúries reception centre. Ruins and museum by Puig i Cadafalch in background. [Originally published in Baumeister 9/2017] As the place where Ancient Greeks first set foot on the Iberian peninsula, the archaeological ruins of Empúries —from the Greek “Emporion”, meaning “trading place”— is a heritage site of European significance. Founded by colonists from Phocaea in 575 BC, Emporion aligned itself with Rome during the Punic Wars, resulting in a larger Roman Municipium being built adjacent to it from which the conquest of Hispania was initiated in 218 BC. Emporion was itself built in two stages: the original Palaiapolis (old...

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Loop the Loop: A Solo House by KGDVS

[Originally published in Mark Magazine #69] Solo Houses is the name of a project that’s intended to include more than a dozen villas designed by different architects. The location is a mountainous region in northeast Spain, not far from the border with Catalonia and about three hours from Barcelona by car. If you’re looking for ‘the middle of nowhere’, this is the place to be. So far, two Solo Houses have been completed, the first in 2013 by Chilean studio Pezo Von Ellrichshausen and the second a contribution by Belgian firm Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen (KGDVS). In addition to these two firms, other participants are Sou Fujimoto, Johnston Marklee, Christ & Gantenbein, Didier Faustino, Studio Mumbai, Anne Holtrop, Barozzi Veiga, Rintala Eggerston, MOS, Go Hasegawa, Kühn Malvezzi, Tatiana Bilbao, TNA, Smiljan Radić and Bas Smets. Solo Houses are nothing like the pseudo-Spanish holiday homes we know from tourist brochures and travel blogs. These more conceptual villas are, according to the literature, ‘an ongoing project of contemporary small resort prototypes’. The venture is the brainchild of Christian Bourdais, a French property developer who, together with art producer Eva Albarran, is also responsible for the Solo Gallery in Paris, a space dedicated to ‘architects who display a truly artistic approach in their work’. Solo claims to be ‘the first contemporary art gallery to exhibit works of architects in their...

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At Home: Santa Clara 1728

[Originally published in Azure Magazine, June 2017] Nestled within a labyrinth of narrow streets, small squares and gracefully aged buildings in one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighbourhoods, Santa Clara 1728 is an 18th century urban palace that has been exquisitely rehabilitated into a small hotel with six luxurious suites by architect Manuel Aires Mateus. Owner João Rodrigues, an airline pilot whose family lives on the building’s top floor, is an art and design aficionado who, through a series of architectural projects undertaken with Aires Mateus, has been pursuing qualities of atmosphere and sensuousness in architecture. Their first experiment, Casas na Areia (Houses in the Sand), is an ensemble of small cabins in which the sand of the beach they are situated in extends indoors. Cabanas no Rio (Cabins on the River), is a pair of wooden fishers’ huts on a river jetty that explore themes of enclosure and exposure within a vast landscape, while Casa no Tempo (House in Time) is a former ramshackle farmhouse in a cork grove that seeks “the essence of home” through a distillation of its architecture. Following this line of inquiry, Santa Clara 1728, the largest and most urbane of these projects, “experiments with new ways of living and experiencing space”, as Rodrigues puts it. All of the projects follow three basic principles: the maximum use of locally sourced, high-quality natural materials, the employment...

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