Nested Walls,


Brickwall refuge placed within three different biomes.

The refuge project, from its inception, aims to position itself in a context as varied as it is diverse, encompassing landscapes as disparate as the arid coast of Las Negras, the rugged shores of Cala Morell, or the extensive valleys of the Cabañeros National Park. In all cases, the project establishes itself as a landmark in the landscape, a focal point that catalyzes and provides shelter from the elements and comfort insofar as it is eloquently oriented, reading each placed stage. It proposes, therefore, a unit capable of adapting and, therefore, nourishing itself from its surroundings through weighted porosities that modulate a threshold between the interior and its immediate environment.

The refuge proposal is based on and seeks to evoke the figure of a termite colony, the termite mound, in all its functional and formal aspects, conducting passive thermoregulation processes resulting from the perceptual duality of a porous yet empty mass. We had a source of inspiration in the vernacular of the animal world. Thus, a living piece is proposed; full of orchestrated porosities, which breathes and metabolizes the resources of its environment to achieve its future subsistence in the medium. Flexibility, passivity, and resilience are key concepts within the conceptual framework of the project.

The project has different internal mechanisms to ensure proper operation in its adaptability to changing climates, the figure of the capuchin wall as a dissipative element is crucial in the design criterion of the piece. We thus obtain the figure of a ribbed wall in its section, of exalted inertia, both thermally and mechanically. Emphasizing the duality of hermeneutics (prejudiced perceptions), from a stage of approach, the piece is understood as a paradoxically porous mass. It is landmark, once crossed and access is granted; through a narthex acting as an interstitial dead end that leads to the reception, occurs empty, cavernous, and container of air.

The floorplan is composed of two strips (serving spaces) that frame a void organized in panels (served spaces). The strip that emerges to the Southwest, formed by two ceramic walls with two layers each with a void between them, functions as a thermal collector to become a solar chimney in the summer and a greenhouse in winter when its openings are closed. The openings that make up this facade were designed to glimpse the landscape in a markedly guided and itinerant way. Other serving rooms such as the bathroom, storage room, and septic tank would be included in this strip.

Once the interstice of ascent through the stairs is crossed, the subject enters a rhythmic series of smaller and more compressed rooms, with dimmer lighting and softer grain towards the senses. It is here where we find a strategy to modulate what is subject to be seen, and what is not.

The landscape becomes a pictorial work observed from a constellation of cardinal points where suddenly the views are framed by the thickness of the wall. Not only this, but the project also polarizes and becomes dual as it pivots between an interior landscape (generated by the atrium) and an external one (privileged view in the Southeast of the locations). The imposing presence of the wall softens to settle a habitable thickness where the wall thickness becomes a chamber, and the window carpentry, an outlook. The bed is encapsulated in a factory niche in a space where with each step, a still weaker gesture occurs.


Author: ASAMA (Xavier Arés+Joan Mayor).
Location: Cala Morell, Las negras, Cabañeros; Spain.
University: UPC – ETSAB.
Year: 2022
Competition: Hispalyt Award.
Prize: 1st prize at ETSAB Local Prize, Shortlisted project at National Prize, Diploma project Award.