Tobogán house (TB House) is located in Aravaca, a residential area on the outskirts of Madrid. But despite being a part of this densely urbanised area, the house is right on the perimeter of the urbanisation very close to the Pardo Mountain which conveys the feeling of being in a natural setting.

El Pardo is a natural area of great ecological value and is considered the most important Mediterranean forest in the Community of Madrid with a surface area of 16,000 m2 and constitutes an ecological and biological reserve as a typical Mediterranean holm oak forest. Due to its use as a hunting reserve by royalty in ancient times, it is one of the best-preserved forests in Europe.

TB house was built on a plot of 2.200m2. It is an original three-storey house on a south-facing slope. This slope has been sliced and stabilised with two concrete walls to form the basement on which a lighter structure containing the other floors rests. Although the house has three floors, only the basement and first floor are intended for housing, while the ground level floor is simply a car park and connection by stairs or lift to the residential floors.

The landscape architecture project seeks to recreate a natural landscape on the mountainside on which the cylinders that make up the dwelling emerge, while the gap between the walls is used to create more intimate gardens suitable for living areas to support the house.

The garden surrounding the house has a wild appearance that blends in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. Different wild granite rocks were placed between a series of plantations that mix perennials and grasses. There is an earthy path to access the house and small pedestrian paths embedded in the landscape.

The design is very organic, naturalised and using natural local materials such as wild granite rocks, local pebble gravel and wooden sleepers. As for the vegetation, these are plants adapted to Madrid’s climate, which is characterized by its large temperature fluctuations in winter and summer, and soil, which is very poor and difficult to drain.

More than 50 plant varieties were used providing colour, texture and movement to the garden, as well as attracting many insects in spring and summer. It is a living, dynamic garden, full of life and colour in spring and summer and more introverted and contained in winter to survive the harsh weather conditions of Madrid.

Inside the cleft between the two great walls, the gardens that are hidden there are totally different; they are spaces created as living areas, sheltered from the outside. They are intimate, personal spaces that compose the setting for the family’s daily life.

A large grass lawn has been installed to link the swimming pool to the living room, allowing it to be used and enjoyed. At the back, behind the pool, there is a slope planted with various varieties of grasses that creates an ever-changing visual background that can be appreciated from the living room. In addition, there is a staircase hidden among the grasses that allows circulation throughout the garden without needing to use the house stairs.

Between the kitchen and the living room, the house forms a large greenhouse-like courtyard, where different species of tropical plants were planted in an attempt to recreate the magic of the first greenhouses that were built in Europe to house the collections of exotic plants that explorers brought back from the tropics.

At the back of the basement, due to the large volume of the excavation, between the house and the mountain there is an extreme slope generated that was necessary for the implementation of the house. This was resolved by stabilising this slope with large rocks which, with the help of various species of shady vegetation, reinforces the sensation of a grotto that the shape of this space creates when one finds oneself there.

Architecture offices involved in the design: Z4Z4Z4

Project location: Aravaca, Madrid, Spain

Design year: 2016

Year Built: 2017-2018


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