Location : Cádiz, Spain
Area : 900.0 sqm Project Year : 2014
Architects : Alberto Campo Baeza
Photographs : Javier Callejas Sevilla
by Alberto Campo Baeza
On a marvelous place like a piece of earthly paradise, at Cádiz, we have built an infinite plane facing the infinite sea, the most radical house we have ever made. At the very edge of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where the sea unites the new and the old continent, emerges a stone platform. At the place where all the ships from the Mediterranean used to pass and still pass by as they head off into the Atlantic.
There we have erected a house as if it were a jetty facing out to sea. A house that is a podium crowned by an upper horizontal plane. On this resoundingly horizontal plane, bare and denuded, we face out to the distant horizon traced by the sea where the sun goes down. A horizontal plane on high built in stone, Roman travertine, as if it were sand, an infinite plane facing the infinite sea. Nothing more and nothing less.
To materialize this elevated horizontal plane, which is the main living room of the house, we built a large box with 20 meters of frontage and 36 meters deep. And under those first 12 meters we excavated two floors in the solid rock to develop the whole living space.
The Romans were there a handful of centuries ago. Bolonia, the ruins of the Roman fishing factories where they produced garum and built temples to their gods, is just a stone’s throw away. In their honor we have built our house, like an acropolis in stone, in roman travertine.
To give even greater force to the platform we incorporated all the terrain as far back as the entrance wall separating us from the street, also done in Roman travertine. Once inside the wall, the entrance to the house will be via a “trench” in the form of stairs dug into the upper surface of the platform.
A Greek poet said that this is a true temenos, a meeting-place, where according to mythology, humans and gods come together.
On the denuded stone platform, three walls surround us and protect us from the prevailing strong winds. Sometimes it is as if someone had opened the bag containing the winds of Aeolus. The same winds that drove on the vessel in which Ulysses made his journey home.
There is a lovely etching by Rembrandt from 1655, “Christ Presented before the People”, that has always fascinated me. In it, Rembrandt sketches a straight horizontal line. Perfectly straight and perfectly horizontal. It is the border of the powerful dais, the podium upon which the scene takes place. There, as Mies did so often, he has made the plane into a line. I am certain that Rembrandt and Mies would like our podium house, all podium, only podium. As would Adalberto Libera, who did the same thing when he built his Malaparte House in Capri. And we like it too. And when we look at our house from the beach, we will be reminded of all of them.
We wanted this house to be capable not only of making time stand still, but to remain in the minds and hearts of humankind. The house of the infinite.
ALBERTO CAMPO BAEZA
Born in Valladolid, where his grandfather was an architect, but from the age of two, he lived in Cádiz where he saw the Light.
He is a Professor in the Madrid School of Architecture, ETSAM, where he has been a tenured Professor for more than 35 years. He has taught at the ETH in Zurich and the EPFL in Lausanne as well as the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the Kansas State University, the CUA University in Washington, and more recently, in 2016, L’Ecole d’Architecture in Tournai, Belgique.
He has given lectures all over the world, and has received significant recognition like the Torroja Award for his Caja Granada or the Award of the UPM University for his Excellence in Teaching. In 2013 he was awarded the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the International Award Architecture in Stone in Verona, and the RIBA International Fellowship 2014 of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Also in 2014 he was elected Full Member to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando of Spain. In 2015, he was awarded the BigMat 2015 in Berlin and the International Prize of Spanish Architecture (PAEI 2015). And won the 1st Prize Ex Aequo to build the new LOUVRE.
His works have been widely recognized. From the Houses Turégano and de Blas, both in Madrid, to Gaspar House, Asencio House or Guerrero House in Cádiz, Rufo House in Toledo and Moliner House in Zaragoza. And the Olnick Spanu House in Garrison, New York, the House of the Infinite in Cádiz, and the Raumplan House in Madrid. Or the BIT Center in Inca-Mallorca, the public space Between Cathedrals, in Cádiz, the Caja de Granada Savings Bank and the MA, the Museum of Memory of Andalucía, both in Granada. And a nursery for Benetton in Venice, or the Offices in Zamora for the Regional Government of Castilla y León. At present, the Sports Pavilion for the University Francisco de Vitoria, in Madrid, has been finished.
More than 30 editions of the books with his texts “La Idea Construida” [The Built Idea], “Pensar con las manos” [Thinking with your hands], and Principia Architectonica have been published in several languages. In 2014 he published, “Poetica Architectonica”. In 2015 “The Built Idea” has been translated into English and Chinese and “Quiero ser arquitecto” has been edited by Los libros de la Catarata. Recently, all his work has been gathered in a book, “Complete Works” by Thames & Hudson, and in 2016, his latest texts have been published under the title “Varia Architectonica”. He believes in Architecture as a Built Idea. And he believes that the principle components of Architecture are Gravity that constructs Space and Light that constructs Time.
He has exhibited his work in the Crown Hall by Mies at Chicago’s IIT and at the Palladio Basilica in Vicenza. And in the Urban Center In New York. And at the Saint Irene Church in Istanbul, and the Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome. In 2009 the prestigious MA Gallery of Toto in Tokyo made an anthological exhibition of his work that, in 2011 was in the MAXXI in Rome. In 2013 his work has been exhibited in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, and in the Pibamarmi Foundation in Vicenza. In 2014 at the School of Architecture of Valencia. In 2015, in Cádiz, at the College of Architects, and at the Spanish Embassy of Iran in Teheran. And in 2016 at the Oris House of Architecture in Zagreb.
ALBERTO CAMPO BAEZA
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