Simple, geometric volumes sharply defined outlines and minimalist mood in a contemporary villa in Paterna, Valencia



How do you think a wood home should look like? Those in fairy tales are surely the best ones. Hänsel and Gretel notoriously find one with marzipan walls and windows made of transparent glass. Perfect, indeed – except that its charming owner, a kids-eating witch, actually plans to bake the poor little siblings for dinner. Then the traditional Snow White hut: timber, stone and straw roof, with seven Dwarves as flat mates. Not to mention the cottage, integrated into a huge, ancient tree, where Flora, Fauna and Merryweather hide Princess Aurora to save her from Maleficent’s poisoned spindle. The best wood huts ever, though, are probably those built on trees and used by the Lost Boys, where their leader Rufio confronts a magnificent Robin Williams playing Peter Pan in the Steven Spielberg movie Hook (1991).

Although Disney movies have always been light years ahead in the design of wood homes, even regular architects have tested their ability on the theme, often achieving spectacular results. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed more than one in Japan, employing light building materials such as glass, timber and steel. The same goes for Marcos Acayaba in Brazil, and Jaques Jillet – who employs the sculptural qualities of concrete – in Belgium.



This time we will talk about the work of Fran Silvestre Arquitectos, a Valencia-based young team, the author of several among the most photographed homes ever in the last few years. Such is the Pinada House, set in a pine grove north of Valencia: a home in the woods which seems genuinely brand-new and yet it is not. What we see today is only the latest version of a home that has belonged to the same family for generations, maintaining its original structure.

The former building was built from the stratification of different architectural interventions, made in different times by employing different building techniques. Each room recounts a chapter in the family’s history. It was crucial for the clients to maintain, in the design phase, the structure, the spaces with their different functions, the garden – in brief, all of the house’s memories, at the same time giving them a new look.



The architects’ task was to add a new layer to the history of the place, lending uniformity to previous interventions. Fran Silvestre employs new architectural volumes and neuter surfaces in order to unite all of the wood home’s seven blocks, at the same time adding entirely new functions to the structure. In this way, new spaces for leisure were created, maintaining the original building’s scale and yet presenting it as a sort of aggregation of small parts, still outlining the courtyards and spaces typical of Mediterranean architecture.

Influences by Siza and the Portuguese school are visible in the pureness and elegance of the chromatic and compositional choices, while the long, ample glass walls highlighting the main façade are clearly reminiscent of Marcio Kogan’s villas. Overhangs, too – among the studio’s most distinctive hallmarks – are present, immediately recalling the unmistakable shape of the Casa del Acantilado, perhaps Fran Silvestre’s most famous project.

Rigorous interiors reflect the house’s clear, linear structure. Minimalism, here, is further sublimated: there’s no room for anything other than contemporary design. By Pietro Terzini



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