Andia House | Navarra, Spain
[VERNE Arquitectura]

This project consists in a house located in the town of Arbizu, in the northwest of Navarra. Specifically, the plot where the house is situated lies on the outskirts of the town, in a very natural environment where agricultural areas coexist with some pseudo-industrial buildings related to farming and other houses with a traditional appearance and construction.

The project is designed based on several starting conditions, aiming to find a unified solution that reconciles them as effectively as possible. On one hand, the urban regulations in this area demand a traditional appearance for the house. On the other hand, the house needed to meet the Passive House standard, so the orientations, construction systems, and energy behavior had to be integral to the project’s conception. Lastly, the house needed to offer direct views of the natural element that serves as a reference for all residents and villages in the area: Mount San Donato (Andía mountain range). This directly affected the positioning and heights of the house on the plot.

Taking all of this into account, the project is shaped as a white, abstract, and solid volume, with two floors and a sloping tile roof. This structure rests on a concrete base that includes two intersecting volumes. Both volumes form porches and contain the garage and laundry area, respectively. This base is robust and allows for the natural slope of the terrain without significant modification. On the other hand, the white structure is lighter, as it is constructed with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.

The exterior aims for an integrated image in the surroundings, reinterpreting local architecture through a high degree of abstraction. Thus, from a construction detail perspective, traditional elements of local architecture are redefined: the eaves are thinner and more abstract than traditional ones, the gutter is crafted to integrate seamlessly with the eave, and the roof tiles are set back to hide their profile at the edge. Downspouts abandon their classic curves and are made with straight lines. Sills, railings, and similar elements are reduced to a minimum expression. At the same time, the concrete forming the porches, finished with a wooden texture, interacts with the chestnut wood fronts that form the house’s facade within those porches. In fact, the concrete and this wood provide the intensity or rawness that directly connects with the presence of the steep Mount San Donato in the background.

The interior of the house, on the other hand, is the space that provides the highest degree of spatial richness and warmth. This interior space is designed as a play of planes that directly stems from its construction concept: the cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel framework. As a result, various height variations, openings that connect spaces, and cross-views throughout the house are created. Specifically, the house is distributed based on a diagonal movement that connects the entrance hall with the living room; both areas are created with a double height and contrast with the more contained height of the rest of the spaces.

The perimeter of the house is conceived as a white and abstract wall, primarily due to the high level of insulation present in the entire envelope. In contrast, the interior walls expose the fir wood of the CLT panels. This creates the sensation that the interior rooms are within a sort of giant wooden piece of furniture inserted into the outer shell. The entrance hall and living room are the large spaces formed within the remaining void left by the said “furniture” within the envelope. This sensation is further enhanced by the design of the staircase: an extremely thin, reddish metal piece leads to a kind of “door” to begin the second flight of stairs; this door serves as access to the interior of the aforementioned “furniture.”

All the details and interactions between wooden elements or wood and other materials are meticulously designed. In many parts of the house, the construction becomes visible, and one can understand how the wooden structure behaves. Completing the materials palette are stone floors and chestnut wood finishes around openings and operable windows. The furniture, on the other hand, has been carefully selected by the project authors to harmonize its finishes and colors (different types of wood, leather, polypropylene in chairs, etc.) with the materials, lighting, and colors that shape the space.

In conclusion, this is a house whose design combines the desire to integrate into a unique environment with the creation of a deliberately abstract image and volume. Inside, this abstraction gives way to the warmth and sudden presence of fir wood in the structure, where the tensions and spatial interplays between different rooms, their heights, and openings pleasantly surprise the observer. Text description by the architects.

Photography by: Pablo García Esparza
Area: 200m2