CONTEMPORARY CUBAN ARCHITECTURE
Just a few months ago, cuban architects Ana Lourdes Barrera, Rubén Antonio Pérez and Royers Leno Medina participated in a competition sponsored by Abouthaus. An online platform that provides training and technical support to people who are building their own homes, assisting them in finding a quality design.
The project submitted by these young professionals from the city of Cienfuegos, Cuba, was intended for a Spanish couple and their two children. Who, after living the last four years in Brazil, returned to their native country to reside in the town of Viladecavalls, 45 minutes from Barcelona, in a plot facing the emblematic mountain massif of Montserrat in Cataluña. These were people with design culture, who had chosen the plot in question because of its location “in a municipality which has all the necessary infrastructure, such as schools, public services, stores, etc.” and because it allowed them “to be in direct contact with nature and the mountains.” Thus, when they envisaged their future home, they gave priority to “simplicity, linear forms, lots of natural light and views of the landscape.”
The conceptualization stage, one of the most complex in the creative process, is made even more difficult when the design is intended for an unknown setting and you must satisfy a client with whom direct communication will not be available. The team had to come up with an attractive and contemporary solution that respected the natural environment and included bioclimatic design strategies. Although prefabricated, the proposal needed to respond to the requirements of its future residents, making good use of pure lines and clean, open spaces, in addition to having a distribution that connected the different areas and environments in an infrequent manner. The team’s slogan, “Bridge House, a Leap over the Natural” (Casa Puente, un salto sobre lo natural), reveals their intentions, as stated in their design sheet:
Rather than resting on the terrain, the structure rises above the ground … the context becomes the protagonist, a setting for the content: the house levitates, floats, protects and enriches.
Rather than a static container of everyday life, this house emerges as a dynamic connection between nature and construction elements, structure and function, interiors and landscape; all are complementary to each other to make daily life a dynamic mise-en-scene. There is a story, a message, an adventure at every corner of this house.
Based on the notion that the volumetric concept would result in a minimalist version of the traditional gabled house, which would also ensure good adaptation to the climate, the volume is divided, separated, rotated, transformed, in order to achieve better use of the land, the views, the natural light and ventilation, all of which brings about a very attractive visuality. The separation from the ground allows a better use of the terrain, both in terms of gardens, and recreation and entertainment areas, while the house is perceived as a stepping stone to the greenery. Due to this position and the fragmentation of volume, walking through the interior of the house is quite exciting.
The planimetric distribution in two slightly inclined rectangles maximizes natural lighting and ventilation, in addition to the excellent visuals. The house is divided into two functional units: the first building contains what may be termed public areas, which include the living room, dining room, kitchen and terrace, in a harmonious and cozy interior-exterior arrangement, which incites leisure; meanwhile, the second building, which is connected to the first one by a glassed-in passageway, is of a private nature and includes the bedrooms and a multipurpose room. The most significant formal aspect here is a kind of inner courtyard that contains one of the original trees in the grounds, allowing for close contact with nature.
In terms of interior design, minimalist criteria were also taken into account with regard to the composition of volumes of the different types of furniture, combined with natural textures, such as wood. The proposal included exposed concrete, interior and exterior white walls, and porcelain floors, also white, to increase the perception of space and highlight the various textures.