Well Being

A Mediterranean Case Study

1. März 2019

The Stgilat Aiguablava villa, designed by Enric Ruiz-Geli/Cloud 9, is a pilot housing project based on ‘smart’ Mediterranean architecture. It was built with leading-edge technology and digital and sustainable manufacturing, integrated with the environment in the Empordà valley and the Costa Brava region
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Ruiz-Geli uses a holistic approach

The main aim of this project isn’t to design a villa, but to carry out a case study.

Ruiz-Geli references architects such as Richard Neutra and Eames who helped to define this concept. In Los Angeles in the 1950s, Richard Neutra established a new form of construction with prefabricated parts and rapid manufacturing and assembly. This inspired a revolution, reducing costs and opening the market up to the middle class. Charles and Ray Eames introduced aluminium as a material into the production process of prefabricated parts.

In a similar way, Stgilat Aiguablava represents a pilot housing project based on a ‘smart’ version of Mediterranean architecture. Leading-edge technology and digital and sustainable manufacturing integrated with the surrounding nature brings innovation to the Empordà valley and the Costa Brava, considering that the region’s landscape is an invaluable asset that provides cultural a backdrop.

The project’s client is a Central European family, passionate about Mediterranean culture and lifestyle, and whose priority was the quality of architecture and R+D+I (research, development and innovation) over luxury in order to achieve a space of well-being.

With this in mind, Ruiz-Geli uses a holistic approach, presenting a style of architecture that evokes sensorial, corporal experiences on every level.

The Catalan vault gives the main residence it’s structurea large space, much like the Empordà farmhouses, that defines the house’s interior. The innovation is in the continuous sweep of the curve of the Catalan vault, a technique that has extraordinary advantages. The Catalan vault is made of a Mediterranean material that works in compression, providing the house with great thermal mass, protecting the interior from external heat, whilst enabling the house to retain heat in the winter. It is also a highly porous material, providing dwellers with superior natural breathing conditions. Lightweight and energy efficient arches have been designed using a minimal amount of materials.

The reinvention of the architectural element Catalan vault (Volta Catalana) in this project has been done using advanced fibreglass engineering, while the challenge for artisan ceramist, Toni Cumella, has been to create ceramics for the vault that are in harmony with the surrounding nature.

The vault’s external facade adds to the landscape by following the curves of the surrounding mountains. The green tones of the exterior ceramics are integrated with the natural colours of the surrounding area. Inside, a special type of ceramic has been designed to achieve acoustics of unbeatable quality.

The key to this project is its integration with the environment. Architect Enric Ruiz-Geli, born in Figueres, a small city in the middle of the Catalan Empordà, establishes a dialogue with the landscape, culture and materials of the region in order to shape the project.

The ceramics, the warm Mediterranean materials, the freshness, the sun and shade, the colours, the terraces and the curves of the coastline are elements that have inspired and conditioned the design of the Stgilat Aiguablava villa.

The vault’s external facade adds to the landscape by following the curves of the surrounding mountains. The green tones of the exterior ceramics are integrated with the natural colours of the surrounding area. Inside, a special type of ceramic has been designed to achieve acoustics of unbeatable quality.

In this dialogue with the environment, the project provides sustainable and innovative architecture and digital manufacturing, bringing value to the region and embodying Mediterranean culture and its way of life.

When I was studying architecture, I visited the Casa da Pergola in Begur, a house designed by Pep Llinàs. Later, I had Esteve Bonell as a professor and I visited his house in Begur, which he too designed. I would like to think that the house we have designed in Aiguablava represents a further step in the architectural excellence that these architects transmitted to us during my years in the ETSAB. Enric Ruiz-Geli

The project includes an ephemeral and experimental pavilion, dedicated to innovation and designed in collaboration with the prestigious ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena– one of the best artistic centres, in which director Zack Snyder and the Apple, BMW and Tesla designers were trained.

The lightweight structure and the pavilion’s windows with natural pine resin filter allow us to create symbiotic relationships between technology and nature in order to achieve a deeper emotional connection, producing a space of refuge and privacy.

Professors David Mocarski, James Meraz, Jason Pilarski and Kenneth Cameron visited Barcelona with four of their students to oversee the construction. 

Inspired by surrounding pine trees and designed based on prototypes, the pavilion is an inflatable structure. A smart, lightweight and ecological concrete is injected into this structure, giving it an organic shape.

Enric Ruiz-Geli and his study Cloud 9 are also working on CaixaForum project in Valencia (Spain) and currently they are developing El Bulli Foundation project beside Ferran Adrià.

Images provides by Enric Ruiz-Geli/Cloud 9

© 2019 Robert’s