Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

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Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

This metal house on stilts by Spanish architect Arturo Franco projects over a river valley in central Spain.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

Named Casa Paz, the house perches over the valley on steel legs and can only be accessed from the top of the valley where it almost touches the ground.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

The house was completed back in 2006.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

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Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

Photography is by Carlos Fernandez Piñar.

The following information is from the architects:


Casa Paz is located in a housing development built in the 60’s, approximately 70Km. outside of Madrid. The area is considered a conventional residential zone, of no specific architectural interest, built using heterogeneous topologies and materials. The housing development, called Rio Cofio, is located on the outskirts of the village Robledo de Chavela; there at the edge of a cliff, a 1,400 m2 steeply sloped lot overlooks a small river. The property is accessed by a road that runs right above it. Directly in front, facing west over the valley, the mountain rises again, creating a natural park that is especially protected.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

When we first saw this lot, we felt it essential to be able to reach this area with the house; to be able to hang in the middle of the valley, suspended at the top of a tree, almost at the other side, listening the murmur of Cofio River directly below. From here, we had to resolve a technical, functional and, mainly, economical problem. The need to work practically without any resources led us to sharpen our wits and to administer the work ourselves, subcontracting all of the professionals one-by-one. None of them (all local trade professionals), nor any of us, had run into such a structural problem as this one when building a house before.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

How could we build this there without financial backing and achieve a unique space for the two people that were to live there? We began to think: an iron structure like those of the visionary Russian Constructivists, a work by Tony Carr, a chair by Shapiro, a piece by Max Hill; something heavy and light at the same time; gravity, an issue; the scale, an instrument to work with; a large table or a small ship.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

In the end, we were searching for a linear house with a rise to it. The straight line and an interior staircase with 90 cm. deep steps as in a garden, reuniting all functions. Below it, a small therapeutic pool, 2 m. wide by 10 m. long.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

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The entire design is developed inside a metal, “cubic like” structure (parallelepiped) clad with a skin stretched sheet metal (deployé), resting on a reinforced concrete base – the container for the pool water and for the gas, heater, water treatment tanks, etc. The guts of this iron artifact, where all vital fluids are concentrated. All of this, more than 15 meters above the river. Nine HEB 300 carry the load the ground. These columns are the only contact the house has with the ground.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

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To maintain structural equilibrium and a certain gravitational logic, the house is suspended 5.5 m. over the river without any support, and the same amount is projected towards the road, where there it ends up being only 40 cm. above ground at the entrance. By doing this, a balance in weight is achieved; apart from placing the heavy elements over the cement frame, thus lowering the center of gravity.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

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The crane that was available only reached 18 m., that is only as far as the concrete box. We were not going to be able to construct the cantilever that projected out towards the river. The solution consisted in erecting the entire metal cage and then sliding it into position over rails using manual winches, as if it were a train.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

Click above for larger image

In short, this house in which Paz and her husband Tomas presently live was an adventure and we are grateful to them for their trust and courage. It is a home with which, according to them, they wholly identify.

Casa Paz by Arturo Franco Office for Architecture

Click above for larger image

Arturo Franco, as architect of the team, working with Fabrice van Teslaar, architect, and Diego Castellano, interior architect and work coordinator, had projected and constructed this dwelling. Casa Paz. Río Cofio Housing Development, Robledo de Chavela, Madrid.

Location: C/ DEL RIO, 591. URB. RIO COFIO. ROBLEDO DE CHAVELA. 28294 MADRID.
Preparation of the project and completion of construction schedule: January 2004-April 2006.

Project’s authorship: Arturo Franco. (architect), Fabrice van Teslaar. (architect)
Project’s collaborators: Diego Castellanos (interior architect)
Site Supervisor and Quantity Surveyor: Salvador Baños.
Developer/Owner: Paz Fernandez/Tomas Rodríguez

Cost per Square Meter: 280,000 euros. - 771 euros/sq m
Area or volume constructed: 363 sq m

  • BlueSkyBob

    May be it´s the right time, but it is most certainly the very wrong place. Yech, what a discredit to the surrounding landscape. Off course the owner will only notice it, when being outside his house. Lucky him.

  • kyle

    striking, but it really sticks out in a bad way. especially the long elevation, it is pretty brutal symmetrical tin can.

  • lars

    Agree with you there blueskybob. My heart goes out to the neighbours.

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    Taking aside the way the project blends with the surrounding –and I happen to agree with the previous comments–the architects should have looked for a better contractor; the metal cladding in the facade looks cheap. This house will not age well.

  • Nico

    I don't say this a lot but looking at this project makes me cringe. The stark symmetry and the quality/material choice for the exterior skin really doesn't sit well with me (although I'm glad[?] the owners seem to like it). I can appreciate the hard work that went into this particular undertaking (on such a difficult site) but the finished product isn't anything to praise. I will say that the sectional quality is somewhat interesting, particularly with the pool (which I would like to see in a photo).

  • louis

    Dislike. It is a pitty, coming from the authors of the Intermediae Matadero. One hit wonder?