Villa Slow holiday retreat by Laura Alvarez Architecture

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Program: Holiday retreat

Villa Slow

Location: Valle del Miera, Cantabria, Spain

Area: 160 m² gross floor area

Year: 2014-2017

Architects: Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)

Client and developer: Laura Alvarez

Photography: David Montero

Contractor: Soal Inversiones SL

Wood works: Carpinteria Astillero


I grew up in the North of Spain not so far away from Villa Slow. I have really good memories of me and my family enjoying nature. This region of Spain has many of the things I always look for when I go on holidays: Mountains, sea, natural parks, hiking, quietness, culture and rich gastronomy. But I always felt I missed here a nice place to stay… a place where you can be warm when it is cold outside and be fully connected to the outside when the sun shines. So I thought: If I cannot find it, there will also be many people not able to find it too….Let’s design and build a beautiful place and share it with more people!… Being myself an architect, it was an opportunity I could just not let go…And this is how it all started.”

Laura Alvarez


Villa Slow is designed and built with extreme mindfulness and care for detail. The house is very respectful with the environment. Its design is based on the traditional typology of a Pasiego House (Cabana Pasiega) but with a contemporary twist. The rough exterior stone walls and roofs contrast with the delicate interior wooden structure and details. Two big panoramic windows in the living room facing opposite directions create a beautiful scenography of mountains, clouds, and trees. The two rooms with their generous height are designed to allow different arrangements: just a couple, couple with children, friends, etc. Each room has its own bathroom fully equipped, barrier-free.


Villa Slow is situated in a very special natural area well known for its spring water formation. The water of Villa Slow comes from its own spring.


Villa Slow pays extreme attention to sustainability. Villa Slow is a passive house. It is provided with a heat pump, under floor heating and high quality insulation and windows for a minimum heat loss. All electronic appliances are A+++ and all lightning based on LED technology. The  high performance glass  warms up the interior in the winter and the big wooden shutters protect the summer from heat gain. All materials used to build Villa Slow are reused from the old stone shed or come from the area of Cantabria.

Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)


All images courtesy of Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)


Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)


Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA) is a young international architectural practice based in Amsterdam. After extensive work experience at renowned architectural offices such as Mecanoo, SeARCH, Benthem Crouwel and Carlos Ferrater, the company was founded in 2008 by Laura Alvarez. As recognition of her work, she has won a considerable amount of awards, among others the Europe 40 under 40 award, First Prize Europan 13 Santo Tirso, First Prize New Faculty Bouwkunde in Delft and First prize Life-Cycle homes in Groningen.

LAA has deliberately chosen not to focus on a single discipline. She believes that both architecture, landscape architecture and urban are crucial ingredients for a successful and integrated architectural design. In all the projects she begins with a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the context; both physical, global, historical and cultural and at the same time the needs of the client and users.

For LAA designing a building is a multidisciplinary and participatory process in which the continuous relationship between program, user and context is questioned, tested and evaluated. Through intensive cooperation from the very beginning with clients, consultants and users, each design has a multiple authorship, and can be seen as an intelligent construction of choices and ideas.

The broad interest in architecture is also reflected in the active role of the partner in education. Laura Alvarez teaches Master Class of Architecture since 2007 at TU Delft, Interiors, Buildings and Cities.


Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)

Nieuwe Hemweg 2
1013 BG AmsterdamT. 0031 (0) 657 78 72 89
T. 0031 (0) 657 88 47 90



Laura Alvarez Architecture (LAA)


Categories: Architecture, Design, Residential, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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