Brother and sister architects Carlos Alonso and Camino who work with Camino’s husband and two other siblings in at the Madrid architecture firm Ábaton rebuilt a former cattle stable into a lovely home that harmonizes with nature so completely. What fascinates me about the home is how flowing water is incorporated throughout.
A fountain fills and overflows, then runs beneath the house out into a reflecting pool which in turn overflows to water the pasture, all fed by the natural water pressure of two year-round streams.
Carved stone bathroom sinks don’t have drains, but empty into the shower enclosure and then to the drain. Flowing and falling water is present or visible from nearly every room in the house. Natural stone and perfectly located windows take advantage of the sun and views, fitting unobtrusively into the countryside.
I really love Camino’s expressions. “We played with nature and nature gave us unexpected gifts.” (paraphrased)
And Carlos, “What we found here was magnificent. The position of the architecture is here as it was originally because the experience of the rancher was to choose the best position on the property where you have water and sun all year round.”
“People from the country know a lot. They take from nature and their experience in nature, since it accompanies them and helps them to survive, and they work with nature, not against it.”
Running water from uphill streams might be a challenge in Yucatan around the Merida area, which is generally flat without any flowing surface water. Our water is all underground.
Watching this video, I thought of a friend who lives in the Yucatan countryside with windmill-supplied water. He has a large, elevated concrete tank built by albaniles a few years ago. His own water tower. Yucatan’s wind keeps the tank full and overflowing, so much so that frequently the windmill has to be shut off which involves pulling a chain to feather the windmill blades sideways and stop them from turning. With the tower’s water pressure and generous constant supply of water, nice flows would be available for something like this video. Channel the waste to the garden and it all soaks back into the porous rock beneath us.
Rooms don’t have to be huge to be pleasant. The upstairs sleeping rooms for the children (lots of bunk beds) and master bedroom are not large, but window placement and non-fussy materials give them a relaxing, cozy look.
Large, deeply inset sliding glass doors, covered on the outside by huge wooden shutters, provide good airflow while allowing control of the sun and nighttime cold.
I wish I had seen this video prior to refurbishing my present home. I would have adapted a few of these ideas, perhaps, to the Yucatan heat.
Well, there is always the next house.
Expats + Yucatan = continually redoing yet another house, right? 😀
For more on this house, see ÁBATON Architect’s website, where you can view a slide show.