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Sustainable House, Huesca, Spanish Pyrenees

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This is a project for a 5 bedroom house in Huesca, Aragon, within the Spanish Pyrenees. The material expression of the house and its form derives from the site and the clients brief. The use of local, reused stones provides the primary construction material and dominates the external and internal appearance. The orientation of the house is critical. The continental climate in Northern Spain means that the house needs to respond to very cold winters and hot summers and subsequent temperatures ranges of -1C to + 40C. Uncomfortable, (high) summer sun temperatures require shade whereas warmth from the (low) winter sun needs to be welcomed. The location of windows, siting of the house and its construction materials responds to these requirements. The views and its relationship with the landscape is also a critical design factor with this house. The vertical cladding and lines of the soffit of the roof reflect the adjacency of pine trees to the west of the site. The terracing of the house literally reflects the terraced landscape of the area where parcels of mountainous land have been farmed flat create useful plots to irrigate and grow plants. These practical concerns combined with a poetic response to the local landscape and architecture created the design idea. Purely architectural inspiration was taken from my walks in the Pyrenees and the Spanish Baleares, particularly in Ibiza where the traditional, ‘finca’, houses and landscape are ingrained and connected. This close relationship is pertinent on a number of levels, but particularly in relation with current issues of sustainability and to create a sense of well-being for the user.

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Sustainability: (Ibiza Observations): This house is self-sustaining. The house is heated with hot water pipes within the concrete slab. The water is heated via an aerothermic device which is in turn powered by an electrical supply via solar panels. The electrical needs of the house are also met through solar panels placed on the roof of the adjacent garage. Water is gained from a local spring and pumped to the house. The water is made potable via a convertor and the foul water drainage is collected in a septic tank.  The upper terrace of the site above the house is used as a ‘huerta’ (allotment) for growing vegetables and fruit.   The chimney which dominates the space heats the massive stone walls and concrete structure which will slowly release heat, like giant radiators.

The house is due for completion early next year.

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