Spain Summer Abroad :: Demonstration House

Demonstration House

by Richard Griswold, Associate Provost and Dean of Students

Early in the blue-sky-dreaming phase of our Spain summer abroad program, I met with Pablo Perez Ramos, a current BAC advanced studio instructor from Madrid. I mentioned --with the enthusiasm of a fanboy -- the Hemeroscopium House by Anton Garcia-Abril of Ensemble Studio. To my astonishment, Pablo said he would see what he could do, and on July 6th, we had a truly inspiring visit.

Published images of this project portray a severe, elegant assembly, a kind of live-in structures project combining prefabricated concrete, steel, glass, water and landscape, which took years to plan but only days to construct. This project gets to the very essence of what architecture means: a gravity-defying composition of abstract elements, suspended impossibly overhead,  deftly framing space with a fine eye for proportion, detail and experience of the inhabitant.

But Anton Garcia-Abril is not only the architect of the house, he lives there. The main level of the home contains some amazing art, as well as large models of projects in progress, including an impressive full-size prototype for Japan disaster relief housing sitting on his driveway. If the Hemeroscopium House is about making weightless contemplation space with impossibly heavy elements, his newest work explores the possibility of creating  mass and commodity from lightweight materials.

His design process becomes evident in a demonstration garden that is intertwined with his living space. In our photos, one can also see how the house has been retrofitted for the actual life of a family with three boys, including safety fencing around the pool and staircase -- as if domesticating the house for daily life has been part of the process. We feel very lucky to have spent time with a visionary architect who invited us into his home and answered our questions with generosity, humor and warmth.