Cáceres – Arturo Franco is perhaps most famously known in the industry for realising multiple interventions in the Matadero warehouse complex (former slaughterhouse) in Madrid. The raw energy and rough materiality of what is now a collection of work studios and cultural spaces is the epitome of the architect’s investigation – both in design and in critical theory – into the adaptation of existing buildings. Surprisingly, his most recent project is a new structure, built entirely from scratch on an empty plot, accompanied by only a small stream and a few horses.
‘I only have EUR 100,000 for everything,’ the client told Franco. In return, the architect created a two-part weekend house. The skeletal steel structure was cheap enough but municipality regulations meant that the full 400-sq-m area could not be occupied by residential housing and so the concrete brick volume is inset from the perimeter. The project is simply finished, with a focus on the qualities and characteristics of the raw materials; the steel roof provides shelter, while the brickwork is latticed at either end to increase ventilation.
‘We conceived this shelter as a building that shows its fundamental gut as it blends into the woods,’ the architect describes. ‘It is a construction that protects itself from the sun under a parasol and from the rain with an umbrella. It is a catalogue of solutions; nothing more.’
While the horses can enjoy the passage through the centre of the property, so too can the client appreciate the closeness to the field in which the property resides. ‘Did we design anything? Well, maybe…’ Franco concludes. ‘We put a small house within a big structure which protects it from the elements from a distance; a sweet, soft shelter on the inside of a hard and efficient artefact.’