M House in Catalonia bridges modernity and tradition
In the centre of the quaint, rustic village of La Nou de Gaia, in Catalonia, Spain, M House sits in subtle juxtaposition to its vernacular neighbours. Quoting ’simplicity as the greater sophistication’, Maria Díaz of Spanish firm MDBA Architects, together with Guallart Architects, designed this three-bedroom holiday home using the house’s traditional environment as a starting point, but highlighting its modern character through an exposed steel structure.
With stunning views out over the fields and distant hillsides of Els Masos de Vespella to the north-facing rear of the house, it is not surprising that the architects created all its main openings towards the back. Whilst the front façade preserves the solid, indigenous form of the existing building - with restricted openings, traditionally railed balconies and deliberate exposure of the old stone arch around the entry door - the largely glazed rear of the property offers a very contermporary, almost contrasting style.
Perched on a raised plateau, M House utilizes the pitch of the land to provide a four-storey dwelling whilst maintaining the illusion of a three-storey height at the front, in line with adjacent properties. The generous open planned living space takes over the lower two floors, with a bright double height area leading out to the pool and terrace at the rear. Each of the three upper floor bedrooms has direct access to balconies or terraces, so that all rooms provide strong connections to the outdoors and vistas out to the picturesque landscape and Spanish sunshine.
Perhaps the most striking and unusual feature of the interior is the ceiling, with its corrugated galvanized steel running throughout. This, coupled with the steel columns and handrails, produces a powerful, industrial feel. Poured concrete forms the floor of the roof terraces above, adding to this effect. At the same time, warm oak floors and stair treads soften the overall appearance, and the exposure of natural stone along one side wall helps to link this modern residence with the area’s rich historical past.