The X-House sits atop a steep hill in Cabrils, Barcelona, with impressive views over a valley. Fashioned in the shape of its namesake, albeit in giant concrete form, the house is the handiwork of young Mexico City and Barcelona-based architects, Cadaval & Sola-Morales, known for bold, formal gestures and modern lines.
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X-House is sited lower than the street, minimizing its public presence and keeping existing views in tact. Its unusual form is not simply gestural - the splayed sides allow light to penetrate the back of the building and the angled frontage maximizes the splendid views.
There are two floors, the top providing access and holding a private suite for the owners, and the lower level offering large social spaces.
Any architect dealing with such a site would be compelled to integrate the sea and mountains. With X-House, Cadaval & Sola-Morales have ensured nothing detracts from the views. On the roof terrace, for example, the architects have installed a glass parapet, thus avoiding even the slightest visual annoyance of a handrail. Even the garage (the true test of a house and the first room you enter) has floor-to-ceiling windows - rather than being dark and utilitarian - while the living room is double height to maximize the outlook. Tall mullions give rhythm and provide a discreet sense of enclosure in a space dominated by its exterior.
Cadaval & Sola-Morales have a knack for concrete, and express their prowess with cantilevering wings and six-meter high walls. The use of engineering associated with bridges and industrial buildings lends itself well to this stern 'X' projecting out over a Spanish hilltop. The house is at once generous and aggressive, playful and utilitarian. And it is these ambiguities and contradictions that make it so intriguing.