A young couple approached us to design their house, there was only one thing yet to resolve. They did not have a site. They had eyesight on a few sites in the hills of Montepinar (the name means “hill of pine trees”) and thus asked the architect to join them and help to choose the most beautiful one.
Of all the sites, they decided on one that was located at the border of the neighbourhood. It was relatively small, but with a number of pine trees growing on it and a spectacular view over the landscape. Its relationship with nature was strong as a forest of the tall pine trees grew on the other side of the road. It seemed like the site continued up the hill following the top of the trees and up to the sky. Its problematic aspect was though the access. The road had cut a deep wound into the hill so the site had difference of four metres in height, from the south north. On the other hand, when standing on the hill, one would have privacy and not be seen from the road.
Due to urban planning, the trees were disappearing in the neighbourhood of Montepinar. The planning regulations did not count for a space required by the trees. Thus, the geometry of the houses built in this neighbourhood assume no trees and the existing trees must be chopped, an authentic paradox between its name and reality.
At present, the couple live in the city but their desire was to move and to live in nature. The architect was therefore encouraged to think about a house that kept a dialogue with the mountain and the top of the trees. As an initial step, he anticipated to change the common typology for this area of placing the living room on the ground floor and bedrooms on the first floor. Instead, proposed a house that would be partially carved into the mountain where the main living area and swimming pool would be placed on top of the hill, while guest-bedrooms and a study would be carved in the hill. This would then be covered with a light structure that would respond to the pine trees.
In order intertwine nature with the house we designed prefabricated wooden arches that embraced both the dwelling and the trees under their arms. The arches take the role of being the structure, the foundation for the house and the base for its concept of twinning together nature and the man-made. The pine trees growing between, as well as inside, the arches make any clear division between interior-exterior disappear. This sense of overlapping is reinforced with the curved roof built with green zinc. It follows the shape of the arches, occupying the space under the top of the trees and, therefore, allowing the pines to grow by the dwelling.
As the site slopes down the hill, there are two ways of entering the house as one leaves the car in a space carved under the structure. One can walk up a few steps that lead to the swimming pool and then go straight into the living room.
Or, one can enter the house going straight in, passing a second living room adjacent to a study and two guest-bedrooms, and take a few steps up to the main living area. North of this internal staircase is the kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms while the living room has a view towards the south, the swimming pool and pine trees in the mountain. The view is unobstructed following the trucks of the trees from the ground to the sky, thanks to a glass wall and the stepped down balcony in front of the swimming pool. No fence is needed. The sense of space is very different here in this living room from the one below, where the feeling for the ground is much stronger, as if one were closer to the trees’ roots or in a cave.
During the building process, the clients have bought their neighbouring site to the west, dense with pine trees. In this way, the access to the house with the car becomes more fluid while the sense of the house, emerged in nature, will be even more intensified.