Comillas House

The project comprises a complete refurbishment and partial reconstruction of a listed 19th Century baronial house situated in the centre of the town of Comillas, in the northern Spanish region of Cantabria, not far away from Santander.

Given the characteristically deep plan typical of these originally rural lots, the new distribution takes advantage of this elongation by organizing autonomous episodes along the house’s section, fitted for a required intense use by a large family. This is materialized in a programmatic piling-up with the bedroom floor located between the spaces of kitchen-dining room on the ground floor and the social area on top. The ascending sequence culminates in a double-height living room on the top floor, suitable for social gatherings, and where much-sought views towards mountains (Picos de Europa) and sea (Mar Cantábrico) are reached. The sea’s focus is made explicit in the new north façade, which lightens up in an upward sequence topped by a lookout, in a contemporary version of the restored south façade. The inversion of the conventional hierarchy between programmes, with the placement of the social areas on top, makes up for the house’s tight urban constrains but also stages an organizational diagram which prompts a playful use of these spaces.

In contrast with this massive stone-walled architecture, the general tone of interior finishes relies on extensive use of natural wood and pastel tones with reconstructions of the original banisters, loggia and other elements.

The initial ruin contained a set of glazed tiles in its façade, relocated from the
nearby El Capricho Palace, built in the 19th century by Antoni Gaudí. These pieces were originally placed, in 1884 and in the exact position where they have now
been restored, by Antonio Bona, an Italian, the house’s first owner who was also El Capricho’s master builder. The retrieval of these tiles, together with the design of the house’s new smokestacks, fortifies the bond and memory between the ancestral typology of this architecture and the extraordinary cultural flourishment of Art Nouveau in Comillas, still a major feature of this small town’s charm.

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