Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 05Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 03Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Garcia Louza Yellowtrace 02Photo by Garcia Louza.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Garcia Louza Yellowtrace 01Aerial view of Casa Nogul. Photo by Garcia Louza.

 

On the lands of a reigning walnut tree, Raul Almenera places down a large granite rock. The tree and this rock are the only two things that exist on this site. Or at least, they are the only two things that matter. Inside the granite block, a traditional family home is carved out.

Appearing as a heavy rock, the Spanish architect explains how Casa Nogal is just “one more stone in the typical landscape of the Sierra de Avila”. Located in an orchard, the home draws reference from one of the only built elements in its surroundings—a long stone wall that scales the hillside town in Spain. Unlike traditional homes, Raul adopts the granite material across the exterior walls, roof and even doors to lay the bones for a very solid exterior. This house isn’t about openness and transparency. It’s about something very different. Casa Nogal aims to be one with nature by physically embodying surrounding elements such as boulders and hard rockscapes. Who would have ever thought you could be one with nature without even being able to see it from the inside, right?

This home has references to what is important—the landscape in which it sits. Various elements across the bathroom, kitchen and even the stairs are made from granitic pebbles found in the local Avila River, and compacted with cement. The interior of the home commits itself to this locally enriched concrete, which Raul describes as “the stone of the 21st century”.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 10Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 09Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 08Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 06Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 07Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Perhaps the only other important thing in this landscape is its hundred-year-old walnut tree. Within its bending facade, Casa Nogal adopts a large panel of curved glass that wraps around the garden, establishing a connection between the tree and the heart of the home. Piercing through the glazing is a striking architectural feature; a t-shaped concrete island bench “begins its journey in the dining room and ends it outside, under the shade of the walnut tree”, says Raul, claiming it as a key gesture that places “the domestic interior in continuous contact with nature”.

Inside, the double-height volume houses the kitchen, dining and living area, with the sloped roof forming a lower cave-like space over the lounge, creating what Raul describes as “a welcoming environment by the crackling fireplace”. The bedrooms above are designed to observe the sky. With no windows in the external walls, these rooms look up to the stars through a series of skylights.

But it’s not only aspects outward that connect Casa Nogal’s occupants to nature. Within the very solid granite walls of this house, Raul Almenara introduces clever and deliberate references to the walnut tree and nature scape that exists outside. Upon entry, an interior courtyard is placed right in front of the entrance door.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 13Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 20Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 19Photo by Juan Baraja.

 

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 16Photo by Juan Baraja.

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Photo Juan Baraja Yellowtrace 18Photo by Juan Baraja.

Raul Almenara Casa Nogul Granite Home Spain Model Yellowtrace 21Raul’s model of the granite home.

 

 

Fully glazed, this garden acts as an expansive mass in the centre of the home, dividing the housing program clearly with more public rooms on the left and private ones to the right. Above, an internal balcony is lined with tensioned steel cable railings; it’s a design move that allowed Raul to “generate a lattice effect close to that of the shadows typical of a tree”, he claims.

Many “solutions are contemplated around the secondary materials of glass and metal”, shares Raul when talking about the strict materiality choices. He “avoided using wood, as to not make the home compete with the key material characteristics of the walnut tree”. The “walnut tree is probably one of the trees whose presence cannot go unnoticed” he shares.

“It is a type of nature with deep roots and dense and elongated shadows. It grows a robust wood, and its silhouette and markings are characteristics that make it a benchmark tree”. So it’s no wonder this walnut tree stands as a hero on site, gracefully sharing the spotlight with its new large rock-like architecture.

 

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