The Alhorines Valley, known for its vineyards, olive groves and forests of poplar, cypress and pine, is a land of abundance. Its agreeable landscape and climate have made it a haven not just for flora and fauna, but for one architect looking to redefine the image of eco houses.
‘This project is very important to me because it firmly follows my personal interpretation of what architecture should be,’ explains Ramón Esteve, whose eponymous architecture studio is based in the nearby city of Valencia. For Ramón, this building is not just a passion project, but a home that speaks to his values.
After falling for the unquestionable beauty of this green stretch of the Spanish countryside, he was inspired to build something that honoured the principles of low-energy living formulated by Germany’s Passivhaus Institut. That meant a meticulous attention to efficiency and, where possible, self-sufficiency. There are solar panels on the roof to generate power and underfloor heating driven by a biomass boiler, while rainwater is harvested under the house. Everything is centrally and automatically controlled in order to make the most of every natural resource.
The technology may be cutting-edge, but from afar, this home could not look simpler. Developed from the archetypal idea of a shelter, it cuts an iconic silhouette with its classic pitched roof and boxy form. ‘It is,’ explains Ramón, ‘a traditional hut reduced to an abstract image.’ Spread over just one 400-square-metre floor, the high-end bungalow’s concrete body contains one large open-plan porch with a living and dining area, which is intersected by seven wooden boxes, each containing an individual room – kitchen, snug, three bedrooms, bathroom and separate toilet.
The use of two distinct building materials lends the structure a visual cleanliness, with the board-formed concrete walls mimicking the grain and texture of the pine. Furniture choices are kept similarly low key and uniform, using neutral shades and natural materials that keep the focus firmly on the views from the giant windows, which punctuate every space. ‘The homogenous interior, when combined with the pine wood, generates a composition that harmonises with the landscape,’ explains Ramón. Environmentally and aesthetically, this is a home that aims to tread lightly and respectfully, but still manages to make a big impression. It’s the definition of aspirational eco living. ramonesteve.com
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration June 2020
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