GilBartolomé Architects creates cavernous "Gaudiesque" residence with a zinc-shingled roof


A wavy zinc-covered roof covers the front of this residence by Madrid practice GilBartolomé Architects, which is dug into a steep cliff face overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Spain's Granada province (+ slideshow).

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

The property called House on the Cliff was designed by architects Pablo Gil and Jaime Bartolomé for a young couple who bought a difficult hillside plot, which has a steep inclination of 42 degrees.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

The two-storey house is largely buried in the ground and covered by an undulating zinc-clad roof that follows the sloping terrain.

The roof form creates a cavernous interior inspired by the work of Spanish architect Gaudí, and described by the architects as a "Gaudiesque contemporary cave".

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

"The task has been to integrate the house within the magnificent landscape that surrounds it and to direct the livable spaces towards the sea," explained Gil and Bartolomé.

"The form of the house and the metallic roof produces a calculated aesthetic ambiguity between the natural and the artificial," they added, "between the skin of a dragon set in the ground when seen from below, and the waves of the sea when seen from above."

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

The subterranean arrangement was devised so the house could benefit from the site's constant ground temperature, which stays at around 19.5 degrees Celsius all year.

A large split-level living area opens onto a cantilevered terrace with a swimming pool on the lower level, while three bedrooms on the second floor take in sea views though dormer windows and glass balconies.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

Constructed in 2015 during Spain's financial crisis and high unemployment levels, the decision was made to use labour-intensive techniques and local workers to help boost the economy.

"In this social context we decided to avoid machine-made industrial construction systems and develop an architecture that is based on many hours of labour," said the architects.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

The roof is formed from a double concrete shell and is supported by retaining walls spaced 14.5 metres from each other, leaving the interior column free.

Up to 70 guests can be accommodated in the two-tiered living space and adjoining terrace, which is sheltered by the overhanging roof canopy that curls around either side of the space.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

"The livable spaces are covered by a curved double shell of reinforced concrete which plays with the geometry of the ground while framing the views and orienting the airflows that come from the sea into the interior," said the architects.

The reinforced concrete roof structure, handmade zinc tiles and gypsum plaster are moulded around a formwork of metal mesh developed by local engineer Manuel Rojas.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

"These techniques that jump between the manual and the digital have produced a unique blend of qualities," said Gil and Bartolomé, who also designed bespoke furniture for the house

The fibreglass and polyester-resin furniture was designed using digital software but handmade on site, giving workers a chance to have input on the design. This element helped the workers in "regaining the dignity lost in their profession", said the architects.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

"The industry of construction and the large developers who have been producing buildings of poor quality and little added value over the last two decades in Spain have created a culture of low demand and denial, installing in society the idea that bad architecture that surrounds us is a necessary consequence of our era," said the architects.

House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain

"This house shows that another construction is possible and that the developer and the user have the possibility of obtaining a better product at an affordable cost," they added. "It is a matter of illusion, talent and commitment to an idea between all the parts."

Other projects in the local area include a new visitor centre and entrance by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza for the Alhambra, a sprawling historic hilltop fortress in the city of Granada, which is still in the design phase.

Video of House on the Cliff

Recently completed buildings in the Andalusian city include a concrete school extension with tiny porthole windows and a boxy marble-clad residence with protruding bays.

Photography is by Jesus Granada.

Project credits:

Architecture: Pablo Gil and Jaime Bartolomé, GilBartolome Architects
Collaborators: Alfonso Peralta, Fabián Andrés Lizarazo, Blanca Perez
On site architects: Pablo Gil and Jaime Bartolomé
Quantity surveyor: Juan Diego Guarderas
Project manager: Beatriz Moreno, Grupo S.C.O
Main contractor: José Manuel Jiménez, Hispánica de Morteros
Structures: Juan Rey , Mecanismo S.L. / Manuel Rojas, Elesdopa S.L
Soil works: Jose Santos, SITE
Roof deck: Zacarías Timón, Cerrajería Salinero S.L.
Interior design and furniture design: Pablo Gil and Jaime Bartolomé, GilBartolome Architects
Carpentry and furniture fabrication: Jorge Alcalde, S'Decor
Zinc supplier: ElZinc, Asturiana de Laminados S.A
Fabrication of special features: Francisco Lajo

Site plan of House on the Cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain
Site plan – click for larger image
Plan of House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain
Floor plan – click for larger image
Section of House on the cliff by Gilbartolome Architects in Granada, Spain
Section – click for larger image
  • Holy heyzues!

  • Forget the roof material, look inside — great space!

    • Jess Thinkin

      How in the hell could anyone viewing this monstrosity ‘forget the roof’?

      • Superficial. Unless you think facades are architecture.

        I love space and learned so much form the work of RM Schindler and Gaudi, too. Space is the thing humans need, a roof can be re-done.

  • LadyMephisto

    Looking straight at the exterior gives me the impression of a 3-eyed monster. Ugly.

  • tupadre

    Fresh air house design.

  • H-J

    The only thing missing is some fake grass interior carpeting.

  • SteveLeo

    Doesn’t seem like it would feel like a house, more like bleacher seating.

  • Mark

    Kids will be running away screaming because of the Gaudi mountain monster.

  • William Gibson

    When it rains does the pool become a big rain water collector?

  • Mauricio

    Get a broom and sweep it off the mountain side.

  • Jan Limon


    Without experiencing the space in person and just going from the photos, it seems like the freaky architecture distracts from the beautiful setting the home is located in. The design would possibly make more sense in an urban setting. But I’m not sure it would make sense there either.

  • Looks wonderful inside, but a bit frightening on the outside.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I like the roof following the contours, but it does resemble a three-eyed monster. It’s sacrilege to confine the views of such an incredible seascape.

  • guest

    I just burped up a bit of sick after looking at its facade.

  • Kobi

    @Dezeen where is the like button for this?! 😍

  • wwwillem

    Gaudiesque? Rather GROTESQUE.

  • tupadre

    House design of the year.

  • apocalipstick

    Why does the roof end in a straight line? That straight edge is poorly thought through. Should blend more with the mountain.

  • NYdesigner

    Very original design that could never be described as pretty. I’ve never seen anything like it nor known anybody that would want it.

  • peter bessey

    Great! Nice to see modern Spanish traditions continuing. Wonder how the traditional villa dwellers surrounding it feel? Would have preferred the organic form to extend along the side edges too. But guess that the house needed to fill the available plot, unless of course this is intended to be a mid-terrace property, with the neighbouring buildings coming along later, so that the form can become more of an integrated ribbon across the landscape?

  • Ammaarah Felix

    The inside is gorgeous, but I can’t stand the roof. The juxtaposition between the curves and the straight edges is just so wrong. It looks like an alien.

  • Alvaro

    OMG that’s the most horrendous thing I’ve seen in years!

  • Alvaro

    Please don’t dare using Gaudi’s name or reference in any way for describing this catastrophic interstellar mistake.

  • Meme

    I like its form. You only see a three-eyed monster if the monster’s in you.

    • Jess Thinkin

      Yeah Meme – even the monster inside of me was startled and aghast!!!

  • Pp

    It’s vile. The interior spaces are generous but they don’t make sense.

  • Urban Myth

    It looks like a metamorphosising alien coming out of the mountain, which is not necessarily a bad thing!

  • Astrid Albuquerque

    Looks like an angry ogre. The ugliest house I ever seen.

  • chris

    Where ego of the architects trumps reason. With a clean facade, this could have been a poetic project. But wasting money on a weaving tile facade takes it to superficial and nonsense.

  • jan

    This cliff would be much more beautiful without any house ruining its integrity, but, if we must build, there must be many better ways of integrating a structure into a given environment. This is just plain ugly.

  • eloy hensen

    It is a angry tricyclopic duck.

  • Shadwell

    It looks like LUR from the planet Omichron Persii.

  • Think

    I love this. I applaud the client and the architect. But I’m conflicted. I wouldn’t want to live in it and I wouldn’t want to look at it. Does that make sense? It’s like I’m philosophically in favour, but the execution frightens me a little. In time I might warm to it.

  • Mr J

    My first trip to Barcelona, age 10, and my first glimpse of Gaudi… Seduced away from rectilinear boxes, just like that.

    As for this, it’s also ideal for any Tolkien lover. Edit: actually, on reviewing the video, maybe it’s a bit much for the site!

  • kq

    Pretty sure there are other ways to boost the economy other than developing an architecture that is based on many hours of labour! The exterior lacks beauty.

  • Ivan L.

    Great job. Congrats!

  • Felix Tannenbaum

    Is Dezeen dead? No updates for two weeks?

    • Hi Felix,

      Are you experiencing problems with our site? We’ve been posting stories for the past two weeks, so please let us know if you’re not seeing them.