Vallmoll is a small town in the Alt Camp, close to Valls. It is placed around a hill, with its castle on top.
The site is on a new suburban area, surrounded by farms, the Vallmoll creek and the Ermita del Roser -transformed by Jujol- on the south and east, and detached houses on the north and west.
It is quite common that people spend weekends and summer holidays in small country houses spread along this rural land. Some of them have been passed from generation to generation, and it is where families grow their vegetables and celebrate the calçotades, a culinary ritual around tender onions and strong red wine drunk with a porró.
Elena wants a house that can be built in several phases:
In 2015, a maset -small weekend cabin- to cook calçotades and costellades.
In 2020 a mas for her, Eduard and her two sons, that can also host friends and grandmother's visits.
In 2030, a house for each son might be added, and the grandmother might move to the ground floor.
She needs to have a twenty year plan that can foresee the evolution of her habitat, and that at the same time allows the maximum possibilities:
She needs a plan that includes uncertainty and anticipation. The first phase should be as inexpensive as possible. It is just a tiny weekend hideout. It is also an outdoors classroom for her two kids, so they can experience and learn all nature's processes:
Everybody knows that when building something, it is important to put the money in the right places. This is even more relevant in low budget commissions. Instead of installing regenerative energy devices, it would be better in the long term to develop an efficient conservative and selective weather system. Cork is a natural product, that provides good insulation, protection from the rain and porosity at the same time. There used to be some old brick kilns in the area but they all shut down in recent years. It is easier to look for standardized materials and construction systems, so everybody can build it. Concrete blocks are a good option for they are fast and cheap to build and they have a kind porous quality.
In this project we are lucky enough to collaborate with Pau Pérez, from whom we keep learning and enjoying our job every time we meet.
Architecture: David Tapias, project director; Ricard Pau, Carlos Gonzalvo, Daniel Chapman, collaborators.
Building engineer: Plàcid Alegret.
M/E: Josep M. Delmuns.
Contractor: M. Vilella Constructor.
When self build is not an option, which strategies can we develop in order to be able to help Elena and Eduard to build their own house with no debt, slowly, spending only what they can save -their excedents?
Can we plan a habitat not just for one or two, but for ten generations? A place that becomes the center of the world for each one of them?
The surrounding masos are a clear example on how human habitats are in constant transformation. Each important change in one family's life, or from one generation to another, altered the construction.
We are developing an open system that allows as many future eventualities as possible, in such a way that each step is complete in itself, and only a few elements can be moved from one chapter to the other: space stays and grows. Needs and times change. A home meant to last and adapt to ten generations. It cannot be a masia, but it learns from it.
Therefore we must use a very common construction system, that will be known in 20 years, but that can also be easily substituted by another. The interior is very small, we try to give as much outdoor habitats as possible: porches, patios, terraces, galleries, shades, orchards, playgrounds, huts.
We work with chapters of a construction process that has a continuity, not with independent phases. So the materialization will be a constant process, and we will just appear three times in it.
A plan for ten generations:
First chapter. Initial plan. 2015:
First chapter. Pre-construction evolution. 2015:
In this phase we explore the conditions of the smallest, cheapest, most versatile house possible. Bringing all legal requirements to the limits, questioning even the most obvious technical and services solutions. Most physiological elements can be easily taken out and moved to a diferent part of the house in the next decades. The rest stay in place so she only needs to spend money once.
First chapter 1:50 model:
Some windows might become doors, or just thresholds, in the future. Some might get a new floor next to them. In order to facilitate the next phase materialization, each new structure will relate to the existing ones thru empty space, by discontinuity.
Second chapter. 2020:
Third chapter. 2030:
After the first phase structure is finished, it will take some years for the future trees to grow tall and wide enough to give shade in summer. On the mean time, we have designed the lightest possible shade, that has the exact same volume and position as the next phase construction, so the EEs can start experiencing that location, sizes, orientations and views, and figure out how they foresee their live there. During our holidays, we met and assembled the structure together:
A DAY IN THE LIFE
On a sunny September 1st, José Hevia photographed the first chapter, in order to document the future changes and reversible features of this mas: