‘X’ marks the spot

Located in the upper part of a hill in Cabrils, in the outskirts of Barcelona, the X House is a spectacular residence shaped like the letter ‘X’. The choice of its eccentric form is based on concrete reasons. A large pine tree positioned right in the middle made the entry quite difficult. The site had stunning views of the ocean and mountains, but was unfortunately placed on opposite sides. The challenging potential of the steep valley and client’s wish to have views of both the mountain and the ocean without losing privacy or the large tree became the primary concerns of the design process. The letter ‘X’ came about as the solution to all the requirements. The slanted entry to the garage accommodates the cars comfortably and the main entry to the house is shaded by the tree in front. The walls at angles continue to provide both views and privacy, combined in a luxurious fashion.

The form is an inclusive response that satisfies each of the questions that arose in the design process. It is also a constructive exploration. A mixed technique based on the application of a high density concrete is employed. This allowed the projection of the material at a high pressure to a single-sided formwork, and to acquire high structural resistance in extremely short periods of time. A method regularly used for the infrastructural construction of bridges and tunnels is here developed to meet the architectural scale, aiming to incorporate efficiency and reduction of costs to the construction. Thus, the continuous 6m high walls were erected without the need of a two-sided framework.

The access to the house is two meters depressed from the single street and the blank walls imply the anchoring of the structure in the site while making the insides disappear from the street. The house has two floors. The upper floor, which is accessed from the street, has the garage and a private suite of the owners including the main room with dresser and washroom and a spacious studio. The lower floor has a marked distinction between the front and the rear of the house.

With the living area in double height, next to the a kitchen-dining room articulated around a significant 8m long marble table, the front zone is largely open and has a more social nature. The rear part, however, holds the rooms and the service areas. Here, through the patios, one can get direct and protected views to the valley, the sea and the mountain. A pool, located several meters downhill, is hidden amongst the vegetation of the site and surrounded by lush green.

The acute angles and the plan concrete walls interspersed with full height glass walls add to the elegance and austerity of the form. With a minimum hint to the outer street, the home is protected behind its large walls and opens itself into the beautiful landscape at the rear.

Cadaval & Solà-Morales

Cadaval & Solà-Morales was founded in New York City in 2003 and moved to both Barcelona & Mexico City in 2005. The objective of the firm is to create intelligent design solutions at many different scales, from large projects to small buildings, from objects to city fractions. The studio has won numerous awards including the Bauwelt Prize (Munich), the Young Architects Prize from the Catalan Institute of Architects (Barcelona), the Design Vanguard Award (New York), a Mention of Honor for Young Architects from the IX Spanish Architecture Biennale (Madrid), The Silver Medal of the XI Mexican Architecture Biennale in two different occasions (Mexico City), the Prize of the Ibero American Architecture Biennale (Cadiz), the International FAD Prize 2016 (Barcelona) the Spotlight Prize 2016 (Houston) and the Emerging Voices Award (2017) from the Architectural League of New York. Cadaval & Solà-Morales’ work has been selected for multiple exhibitions in Europe and abroad, including among others: The official selection of the Venice Biennale 2016, the Barbara Capocchin Biennale, the Exhibition of Young Spanish Architects of Spain and the Mexican, Spanish, and Iberoamerican biennales.

Eduardo Cadaval is a licensed architect with a BA from the National University of Mexico and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University. He is associate professor of Urbanism at the Barcelona School of Architecture, ETSAB, UPC and has been a Visiting Professor at University of Pennsylvania, and at Calgary University’s Barcelona program. Eduardo was awarded with the National Council for the Arts Young Creators Awards, from the Mexican government.

Clara Solà-Morales earned her degree in Architecture from the Barcelona’s School of Architecture, ETSAB, UPC, and holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard University. She is an associate professor at the Barcelona School of Architecture, ETSAB, UPC. Clara has been Visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Associate professor at the school of Architecture at the Rovira y Virgili University, as well as professor and Head of Graduate Studies at the Barcelona Institute of Architecture (BIArch).


Fact File

Project Name: X House

Location: Cabrils, Barcelona, Espana

Building Type: Residence

Architectural Practice: Cadaval & Solà-Morales

Design Team: Eduardo Cadaval & Clara Solà-Morales

Collaborators: Bruno Pereira, Pamela Diaz De Leon, Daniela Tramontozzi, Manuel Tojal

Area: 300 sqm

Construction Company: TOPCRET constructions

Building Engineering: Joaquin Pelaez

Structural Engineering: Carles Gelpi

Year of completion: 2012