HOUSE Z was conceived by its owners as a place of retreat for long stays, taking advantage of the natural setting, located in the foothills of the Sierra de Ronda, on its southern slopes, perched high up and yet less than half an hour from San Pedro de Alcántara. It enjoys, therefore, a mild climate all year round, exceptional views and an original Mediterranean landscape, while remaining close to a high-density urban area such as the coast.

Project: Single Family House, La Zagaleta, Benahavis, Málaga
Architects: Luis Rojo de Castro, Begoña Fernández-Shaw Zulueta. RFS architects
Collaborators: Miguel de Guzmán, Gema García Platero
Technical consultants: Gogaite, Structural engineer; Urculo Ingenieros, Environmental Control
Construction: 2001
Photography: Miguel de Guzmán

House Z La Zagaleta, Málaga By RojoFernández-Shaw arquitectos - Sheet6
©Miguel de Guzmán

Immersed in a Mediterranean forest of pines and cork oaks, with a steep topography of slopes and ravines, the architecture proposed accepts the contrast between nature and artifice. The architecture provides the refuge from where to enjoy the protected images of a domesticated nature. A nature transformed into a landscape by the architectural resources of the frame, the horizontal platforms or the picturesque sequences.

House Z La Zagaleta, Málaga By RojoFernández-Shaw arquitectos - Sheet8
©Miguel de Guzmán

However, domestic iconography is avoided, opting for an abstract and sculptural volumetry, with the aim of taking advantage of the original characteristics of the terrain, its slope and its landscape. To this end, taking advantage of the lessons learned from Curzio Malaparte’s villa in Capri, the architectural order is inverted: crowned by a virtual horizontal plane, the construction could be described as a figurative plinth. Conceived as an inverted platform, the proposed architecture does not begin by levelling the terrain, which remains substantially unchanged. The house occupies the void contained between the virtual horizontal line and the broken surface of the terrain.

Below this horizontal plane, fragmenting itself to meet both the physical conditions of the terrain and the functional needs of the program, the construction extends out along the diagonal lines of the topography, resorting to a hybrid planimetric organization.

House Z La Zagaleta, Málaga By RojoFernández-Shaw arquitectos - Sheet10
©Miguel de Guzmán

The plan of the house combines two types: the courtyard dwelling and the modern linear bar which, like stelae, hang from the former. Their adjacency between these two configurations resolves programmatic issues and, at the same time, provoke conflicts between the parts. The need to obtain ventilation, light and views in all orientations is resolved by means of windows/ skylights which, in the manner of devices or mechanisms that are difficult to identify in the context of the domestic landscape, interlock and negotiate the relations of adjacency and proximity.

As in regard to the construction technics, the sequence of ecological earth retaining walls, irregular masonry and vertically cut stone corroborate the gradual transformation between the natural to the artificial, intentionally diluting the frontiers between the two for the sake of integration on the site and its natural context.

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