Reinforcing the Horizon

architect Iñaqui Carnicero
project House 1+1=1, Torrelodones, Madrid, Spain
written by José María Sánchez Garciá

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The design of these two semi-detached houses is addressed in a non-conventional way. Although the programme for both houses is identical, the layout is not symmetrical. From the beginning the two units were conceived as one single project. Not only does the project answer the client’s needs, but it also offers the possibility of being transformed into one single house, envisaging a wider range of scenarios for its future use.


Although the house is located on a slope, oriented to the south, with many rocky outcrops and is called Los Peñascales – rocky area in Spanish – the building does not relate to them, it turns its back to its immediate surroundings and rather interacts with the distant Pardo forest and the Madrid skyline. In my opinion, this is the key decision of the project, from which the rest derives.


The house somehow denies its surroundings and the abrupt topography of the site by delicately leaning on the rocks with a large horizontal plane that defines the building’s footprint. This piano nobile, where daily life goes on, is covered by a floor made from white calcareous stone.


Once this reference level has been established, the house is organized into two independent parts. Underneath are located the service areas and the car parking, and above the house’s living area. The entrance to the house appears between these two different worlds, via almost hidden steps, situated around a huge rock.


One single volume houses the rest of the programme. It is a hermetic, horizontal prism related to the ‘footprint plan’ in its placement, shape and dimensions. Here is where the rest of the programme like the bedrooms, a little toilet and the main bathroom is organized as well as the area destined to be the study. Against the hillside, the almost hanging concrete box leaves the necessary height underneath for the ground floor to be protected from the sun while preserving the views to the horizon.


A single window placed 1.40 metres high frames the skyline of the landscape and uniformly illuminates the concrete ceiling. The horizontal void that runs through almost the whole building brings natural light to the first floor, allowing the sun to enter the ground floor diagonally through the central double height. The independence of the levels is only interrupted by the double heights that bring both spaces described previously into a relationship.


The house’s fittings are clustered and relate to one another in such a way that on the ground floor the furniture is reduced to a single element that has very different functions: storage, kitchen, sitting area and entrance windbreak. On the first floor, all the wardrobes are concentrated in a single strip attached to the façade, improving the thermal behaviour of the building and therefore reducing its energy consumption.


This house hosts two dwelling units, but lacks the scale of a house. It uses the abstraction of traditional dwelling elements to mislead the visitor and to attract his attention to the specificity of the environment.