“A second skin for its owner. Here the Campo Baeza dance begins with the architectural transparencies, a manifesto to its architecture, a house that lives by and to contemplate nature.”
We are located on the outskirts of Madrid, 40 minutes from the capital in the middle of nature in a private urbanization submerged in a typical forest of Madrid, surrounded by cistus and holm oak trees, and with exceptional views of the mountain range.
We’re in the refuge of the cultural manager and art curator Paco de Blas, and it’s when we’re sitting next to him on the top floor of his house that we understand why he chose this spot, and why his architect Alberto Campo Baeza decided to design it the way he did.
Paco, more than specific spaces, told the architect how he wanted to use his house. His lifestyle, the need to live with art, his love for reading, his passion for music and desire to not have to worry about setting volume limits …
From there, Campo Baeza designed the house and asked Paco to let him create with free range.
The result is another rock in the landscape, out of sight, reserved and almost imperceptible from the outside.
Its shape reminds us of a boat that floats in nature with discrete windows in its hull, like hatches, to maintain privacy, acoustic soundproofing and energy efficiency.
On the top floor we have the roof made of glass, which could well be the boat’s control room, where there is outdoor and indoor life, with an outdoor pool and dining room with views, in addition to the conservatory.
The house is located within nature as the main observer and admirer of the environment, but without being invaded by it or splashed by its waves. It lets her be and grow at will, coexisting naturally.
It wouldn’t make sense for this house to have a green mantle for a garden, fruit of the manipulation of man. This boat sails on the intact, pure nature.
On the upper floor there is a clear game of bringing nature inside and the indoor space outside, through transparencies which achieve an optical effect of undefined limits in a masterful way.
This upper part is the perfect viewpoint, which, thanks to this design and the unevenness of the land, maximizes and takes advantage of the best views that the plot could offer.
There are two living areas in this house. The most intimate and daily, which is located on the main floor with a symmetrical distribution between both sides and whose dining room defines the main life of the space.
Then there is the social life, built around a table and surrounded by works of art and design, such as its pieces by Alvar Aalto. Its functionality, comfort and design are a classic that never tire.
Art in this home is essential and changing according to the owners’ life or link to certain artists, people and / or moments.
The areas of the house are differentiated by great hobbies, reading and cinema. The space has two identical suites, one at each end of the house. Each suite has its bedroom, separate dressing room, bathroom and a private lounge. Paco currently uses the private lounge in his master suite as an office and reading room and the other as a cinema.
For a more conventional couple or family in need of more rooms, both rooms could be adapted to create two extra rooms, making four in total.
After 20 years the house designed by Campo Baeza remains to be Paco’s perfect home, and that’s not easy to say after living in a space.
Now Paco is looking at a change of life, a new stage that takes him to a more urban environment, hence he is closing a cycle and putting his unique refuge on sale.
We return to his social area, the space with art that Paco has been constantly changing over the years with different works and the one that welcomes guests.
Even the works currently exhibited could be acquired with the property, because as Paco explains, art always changes in his life, he does not collect, but simply enjoys it for a while. That, he says, makes you happier than mere possession.
Paco is practical first and foremost in his house, he always looks forward without sticking to things … less likely to his furniture by Alvar Aalto.
He likes to travel light.
Although he likes subtlety, with art we could say that he is colorful and risky.
TS. Paco, can you tell us about the works of art that are currently in your living room? Who are they from? What do they give you?
PB. At the moment there is a series by the Brazilian artist Yan Guaracy, based on the spiritual reality of the world of the orishás. It was a series painted in the house itself, which gives it a revitalizing air of “artist’s studio”.
TS. Regarding the mural that welcomes us. Who is the artist? What did you want to achieve with this mural?
PB. The mural is by Antonio Macia and it perfectly combines with the color tonic of the house. In a minimal environment, with rigorous architecture, I wanted to introduce the almost graffiti informalism, the most organic inspiration, as a contrast to the environment.
TS. Tell us about any of the works that could be purchased with the house.
PB. Those of Yan Guaracy are for sale. It is a stage of the artist that closes and he wants to share.
(We can see them in the living room, above the sofa).
TS. Could we say that this house is the one that has marked a before and after in the architectural style of Campo Baeza? We know that this house has inspired works of greater scope such as the house Olnick Spanu in NY or Casa del Infinito in Cádiz. Why will it always be special in your collection of Casa de Blas projects?
PB. It is the canon, the perfect proportion, not subject to the program of needs, but to the dynamics of the form itself.
TS. You have enjoyed this house so much – what is your favorite time and place of the day here?
PB. It depends on seasonal cycles, but what the architect calls the belvedere, the glass part, is always an invitation to feel calm in front of the green ocean that extends to one’s feet in winter and summer. We are in a holm oak grove.
TS. Do we step on land at some time of the day (use of the garden / countryside)?
PB. The house is completely linked to its environment, the inside-outside is an inevitable movement, in winter and in summer. It was conceived to live “in” nature.
Photos: Rebeca Patillas Sobrino