Living Around a Patio by Julio Barreno


Architect Julio Barreno has completed the renovation of a traditional patio house in Ubrique, Spain.

Called Living Around a Patio, the project uses the central open space to admit light in the daytime and visually link different levels at night.

Windows onto the patio and large internal glass doors are framed in wood.

An orange volume on the ceiling defines the dining area.

Here's some more information from Barreno:



Taking a look to an aerial view over the historical centre on the city of Ubrique, it advises us about the importance of the patios in the traditional typology of this city. The existence of these patios makes fluffier the high density of the historical centre of these cities in the south. This is very important to protect the people from the hot weather.

This proposal in Colon square is a restoration of an old building with traditional character.

The works on the façade were only a process of cleaning or rubbing a lot of ornamental elements that made it a bit dirty. I decide to simplify the appearance using two or three elements from the original façade; the wholes (wooden windows), the balconies, with the original railings; and also the number above the main entrance.

The colour used in Ubrique for the facades is fundamentally the white one; this is something that the authorities force to.

Using this white colour in our proposal we found a way to get that several traditional elements construct a new abstract language, specific for this building. Some of the figurative traditional elements are able to design a new appearance for this new element in the city.

The program is a singular housing in the upper floors and a local in the ground floor.

The patio in the original house was another important green point in the Ubrique´s map. In the new proposal the patio is considered always as a GREEN ELEMENT, a NATURAL ELEMENT. This is the origin of the design of the rest of the elements that complete the building.

This is why the wood used for the design of the windows that delimit the patio has a natural appearance as well as the steps of the stairs that link the first and second floor.

The floor is constructed using compressed soil, because that is what beige marble is at last.

The ceilings are also treated as natural elements, probably trees, covering different areas inside; one of them controls the space above the stairs and the other one distinguish the dinner area from the living one.

I like to see this as a NATURAL LANDSCAPE INSIDE.

The fluency of the floors is the most important theme in this project. We have to talk about just one space that is composed of different areas delimited with light glass walls and mobile elements.

In this house you live around a patio, this is the structural topic of the house. Here you need to move across this landscape, around the patio, to understand the house, to live in it, organizing the program you live in a sequential way.

During the day the patio is the main space, through it, the house receives a lot of light and sun, and it fills up of life. At night, it becomes a singular element that links visually different rooms in different floors.

Posted on Saturday January 2nd 2010 at 10:32 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • xavier

    great spaces and clean concept, personally would like to have see some of the materials changed – not very keen on the orange colours [to the paint and timber] but love the light and airy interiors… can we have some plans/sections please?

  • Pablo DR

    Nice, but not particularly fond of the orange kitchen.

  • omar

    I find the concept of a house arround a patio is good. The patio itself could still be develop.

  • narinder

    i love this. Sorry to say, dark timber and orange really don’t go.

  • Same principles can also be seen in various contemporary Japanese houses which differ in their monochrome (white) interiors.

  • sam hui

    i guess the design can go deeper in term of space or material rather than highlighting a particular place with the easliest treat(the orange paint and dark wood). How a waste.

  • roro

    well, I disagree. those japanese designs are pure concept; in this case the design tries to separate from the concept to get closer to the persons who are going to live there; it seems to be built as a natural thing, you know, something soft and confortable, not just a concept.

    and the orange colour is great. it is the exception in a white coloured landscape; it is something that colonize the space in a very powerfull way.

    it is really nice. congratulations.

  • Really beautiful living space, makes me want to move. I want a home with a hole in the middle!

  • Too many walls without artworks and too many floors without furniture and plants. Looks like the house was photographed for a minimalist publication without regard for livability. Sorry, but I would turn this one down without hesitation.

  • tanya telford – T

    i can’t quite figure it out but, there is something i really like about this re: the courtyard space, a space that can only be filled in part by objects and rooms have windows that look out on to/into this space (plus shafts of light and air etc.). I really like the exterior of this building too, they have left some of the original detail. The orange in the dining area for me just emphasising eating together as a family, . It doesn’t looked lived in yet but maybe they have just finished the conversion.

  • Alex

    It will be lovely when it has been used for a while. I rather like the bold colour for the dining area but it should have the sockets and switch to match.