Guallart Architects


Liria, Valencia. Spain 1994

Principles of metapolitan housing

1. Integration with the landscape.
The analysis of the landscape and its natural elements is the origin of the project, just as that of a street or an urban sector is in the city. The entire plot deserves a project, by action or by omission. The construction of a dwelling is a naturally artificial or an artificially natural process. Housing and landscape are integrated in a new unity.

2. High quality at low cost.
The aim is to achieve the maximum with the minimum. This means optimizing the available resources. The beauty of a place does not come from the quality of the materials but from its spatial qualities. Quality is a moral issue. A matter of precision. A question of attitude to the construction process, which depends on all of the people involved in that process, from the client through to the fittings manufacturer.

3. Concentration, with the maximum exploitation of resources.
Accumulation and concentration make it possible to optimize resources in the functioning of a building or of a city, in contrast to dispersion, which requires a permanent input of resources to continue to function (energy, movement...). Any material found onsite (rocks, earth, water, air...), any urban energy, is capable of being integrated into the project at zero cost.

4. Mobility of the interior space.
Houses are large empty spaces occupied by movable objects that allow us to carry out different activities in that space. Intelligent objects, multifunctional in some cases, that make the whole interior a piece of furniture. We live in a piece of furniture.

5. The uses are developed in the section.
The basement, excavated out of the earth, and the roof, in contact with the sky, are spaces to be used with as much intensity as the natural level of the site. On the basis of a simple form in plan, a building or a city is laid out through the superposing of layers that have a character and nature of their own. Movement around the building is by way of ramps, staircases, like a stroll around town.

6. The proportions of the space.
Quantity is quality. Each different use calls for a space of a certain size. The house is organized by means of the contrast between the sizes of its spaces. There is no standard height, no standard measurement: generous heights, widths and lengths at the service of quality.

CLIENT: I wanted to have a large house. As a child I lived in a conventional house, with an L-shaped living room and a small bedroom from which I could hear the television constantly. What I would like now is to enjoy a really big space, very high, with a lot of light and very little furniture. The bedroom will be on the upper floor, with a view of the mountains.

ARCHITECT: It’s a good idea.

CLIENT: And I would like a garden, with trees and flowers, with a tennis court and a pool, but I don’t want to have to take care of it, as my father did with his little vegetable garden.

ARCHITECT: We’ll make it all artificial. A plastic lawn, metal trees, artificial hills with the excavated soil, flowers with coloured lights... It will not be a ‘second best’ project.

CLIENT: But I only have a very small budget.

ARCHITECT: Achieving maximum quality at low cost is a great challenge. We will build a really fine building using simple materials.

CLIENT: How will you do that?

ARCHITECT: The house will be hard and comfortable, abstract and natural at the same time.


Construction: 1994-1996
Client: Vicente Sanz
Site: Liria (Valencia, España)
Arquitect: Vicente Guallart
Art director: Nuria Díaz
Asistants: Daniel Espasa, Lluis Cantallops
Technical Asistant: Manuel Juesas
Collaborators: Coral Díaz, Luis Cantallops, Jeron Luttikens, Xènia Gaya, Jordi Salvat
Facade: Jaume Arderiu
Industrial design: Noel Díaz, Xavier Teixidó
Technical advisor: Manolo Juesas
Pictures: Giovanni Zanzi