The project Montes is describing is a new house and atelier that F451 Arquitectura has completed in the city of Gijón, Spain. Composed of three distinct white, metal volumes, the structure bears a complicated relationship to the landscape around it, perching on top of the ground to the west, but gradually becoming submerged within it to the east.
Designed for the artist Lara Rios, the building is divided into a house, double-size atelier, garage and guest apartment. Each of the separate components is housed within a metal shell and then sealed with insulating material and a fibreglass-like outer casing. "Imagine the construction of a surfboard," Montes says by way of explanation. The simplicity of construction is betrayed by the corrugated metal panels that cover every ceiling: a glimpse of the metal structure that underpins it all.
The Gijón project's character, Montes says, was born out of a site that slopes up a 7m gradient. The complexities of the plot of land afforded an opportunity for F451 to explore the connections between architecture and landscape. "As a studio we're interested in merging landscape and architecture," he says. "We're fascinated by the continuity between them as well as the distinctions."
The building is the second part of a trilogy of projects from F451 Arquitectura investigating landscape and architecture. It follows in the footsteps of the 2009 UPF Green Zone, a stretch of parkland in Barcelona with concrete seating sunk into the ground; and will be followed by a geometric ferry terminal embedded in grassland in Mahon, the capital of Minorca.
All three projects exploit a similar aesthetic: harsh, angular structures rising out of undulating land. "Our architecture is very geometric and edge-based, but we like to keep landscapes very smooth," says Montes. "We don’t believe in modelling the landscape using artificial geometry. We like to connect architecture to landscape but we should never forget that they have their own distinct characters."