Excerpt: Casa 15 is a residence designed by the architectural firm AM-arqstudio. Even before the client understands the project goals, the distinct spaces begin taking place, sometimes as a word, other times as a perception of how a material feels when touched, and others, how the light makes you think.
[Text as submitted by the Architects] When you first meet a client, you start travelling through spaces not built yet. Even before the client understands the project goals, the distinct spaces begin taking place, sometimes as a word, other times as a perception of how a material feels when touched, and others, how the light makes you think. Every project is a unique relation between intentions and desires translated into what is expected to be the comfort, the pleasure, and the relaxing sensation to the house’s inhabitants.
The couple who owns the house had a clear intention about the social atmosphere. For them, everyone should be visible and part of the family, no matter who is cooking, reading, or working from home. On the other hand, they wanted to be comfortable at night without feeling uneased by shadows and exterior movements. Thanks to these constraints, the normal division between social and private spaces became clearer than usual.
This narrative started building the mental walk-through glueing all the interior spaces. When arriving at the door, the guests still don’t understand how the interior spaces are created since the volumes don’t let you look inside, so you will need to find your way in. Once the main door is opened, as you enter the grey hall, there is an expectancy about what will be seen next. The first rays of natural light are an invitation to the living room. The following steps reveal a high ceiling, which connects the upper floor through suspended stairs using the same wood as seen in the house’s exterior, and all the social and working atmospheres, including the exterior garden.
People’s fluidity through spaces, both horizontally and vertically, is connected by this core space, where the ceiling wood turns and becomes the floor finish of the level above. This game between continuity and transition allows the natural light to disperse into the horizontal planes, both floor and ceiling, converging into a gradient between social and leisure spaces and rest spaces.
From the early stages, light reflection over wood surfaces, in contrast with gray and darker materials, was believed to be the best way to mark the time running by. What starts as the first moment of the day – the breakfast – is when the natural light touches the kitchen floor and the wood balcony. The second moment reflects the light pointing to the dining space, where the interior and exterior can be connected in this extended semi-exterior space. Here, both the ceiling and the floor materials work to disguise spaces’ boundaries during warmer days. After that, the sun starts getting lower until it touches the library’s wood furniture, giving it a warm and comfortable feeling and inviting the transition from the home office to the living room. This area is the last to receive natural light. It signals that the day cycle has finished.
During the day, we can see the natural light reflecting and guiding the inhabitants to the more comfortable areas of the house. The artificial light is placed in strategic places during the night to extend the warm feeling. The confidence and security are achieved with light reflecting on the wood, making the entire first level a light box that invites exploration.
As the family starts the transition from social to private spaces, the main goal is to make smoother fruition between a continuous space, the first floor with light flowing continuously through the day, and a quitter place where inhabitants go to rest. The corridor’s walls and doors have a dark concrete finish that is only interrupted by a window that lets the light enter. The rooms on the west facade are warmer as they have received the last hours of sun, intensified by the wood’s warm feeling. There is a continuity of the floor expanding into a balcony protected by thin wood columns filtering the view from outside while letting the users see the outside.
The master bedroom directly connects with the vertical winter garden, which reflects the light from the below level into the first level and vice-versa. If there is moonlight, it will enter through this glass and invade the room, illuminating it. A bigger window is placed in the bedroom corner, creating an exciting moment when the natural rays almost become parallel to the ceiling and floor, shifting the wall from grey to nearly white.
This game between darker surfaces and smaller openings makes the upper-level spaces quieter and more secure, nonetheless without creating the sense of a small space. During relaxation moments, inhabitants can connect with the exterior as they wish, either walking outside to enjoy the warm wood on the private balcony or letting the moonlight invade the bed sheets through the vertical opening.