GEA Architects

GEA Architects

Madrid, ES



The owner wanted to rehabilitate this house located in Baños de Montemayor, a town in a valley in northern Extremadura: Valle del Ambroz. This is a beautiful valley protected from the north by the mountain range Sierra de Gredos, a situation which gives it a moderate climate. The municipality is characterized by the highest rate of housing in Spain.

Historically, families used to accommodate travelers who came to enjoy the spa of Baños de Montemayor. The houses, therefore, should contain a large number of rooms, which were established along corridors giving access to bedrooms without direct ventilation, called "alcobas" (old Spanish word that stands for bedroom).

The architecture is distinguished by very narrow facades that give rise to dark and deep houses. The marked topography produces a big height difference between two points inside the same house, in this particular case; there is a height difference between the two-story main facade and the back yard.

The state in which we found the house at the beginning of the works seemed a compendium of all these problems: It was a stone house with wooden seen structure but poorly preserved, barely any light, and a narrow front that did not allow to open more than one or at most, two windows per floor. The ceilings were low, and the interior layout did not allow large open spaces. Finally, the access floor, was be buried in his back side, it had a lot of humidity and no chance of natural lighting.

Given that the property wanted to preserve the original structure of the house, our effort was focused from the beginning to create a marrow space to change the perception of existing domestic space. Thus, the traditional layout of concatenated bedroom is transformed into a large interior space that distributes the users to the bedrooms. This central area contains all the day uses of the house (kitchen, living room, reading area), leaving the sleeping area separated by the bathroom to prevent transmission of noise nuisance to the sleepers. The bedrooms (mainly on the first floor, and two more in the second) have openings to the main facade. Two parallel spaces complete the program of this holiday house: The cellar is located on the ground floor whilst the solarium is on the roof.

The opening of the gap in the existing floor creates a double-height space allowing the light to scroll vertically up and down the house. The substitution in specific areas of the floor for safety glass enables light to enter areas that by no means would have had light. This has been carried out on the top of the cellar and on the access to the upper terrace.

The annexation of the vertical volume of the stairs to the double height space takes advantage of the lighting of the first and enlarges the spatial feeling of a second. The new sections of the ladder are made as “Airy” as possible in order to help the entry of light.

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Status: Built
Location: Baños de Montemayor, ES