Bold Minimalist Architecture Unites Generations of Projects in This Family Home Award-winning Valencian architecture and design studio Fran Silvestre Arquitectos took on a big task with House Between the Pine Forest: a family home dating back to the 70s, this house had acquired a number of poorly integrated elements over the generations, ones that needed uniting under a common visual and spatial grammar. But, the two-child family who commissioned the project also wanted to protect the sentimental value that the home had gathered. The identity of the finished project is boldly minimalist, a predominantly white space that stands in striking contrast to the pine forest in which it’s set. House Between the Pines is on the edge of a residential area in Valencia, Spain. Multiple volumes are offset to create storeys in the unique structure. The multi-level structure of the building is emphasized with sunken patios. Located in a residential area on the outskirts of the municipality of Paterna, Spain, the white house is split across various volumes that contain within them various levels, creating a complex space that also nods to Mediterranean architecture in the way they outline patios between each volume. Across the spacious 723sqm site there are 5 bedrooms (including a guest pavilion), a sauna, outdoor pool and jacuzzi, indoor pool and gymnasium, and first floor terrace. The interior is predominantly white, like the building’s exterior, and uses tactical touches of pine-coloured wood to match the natural setting of the building. Designer Alfaro Hofmann has selected furniture pieces from companies like Minotti and Gandia Blasco that continue the restrained look of the project. The exterior sticks to a strict minimalist colour scheme throughout. Broad windows let natural light into the deep interiors. The first floor enjoys a remarkable terrace offering broad Valencian vistas. “The topography of the terrain and each of the trees have been determining factors in defining the geometry of the project”, the studio says, of a project that took two years from design to completion. Fran Silvestre Arquitectos specialises in international residential, corporate, public, and cultural projects. The collaborative studio focus on providing technical responses to concrete situations, and like to find beauty in the process of construction The house backs onto and stands in stark contrast with the surrounding pine forest It’s a family home in the most touching sense: a collection of smaller parts that, when they come together, form a strong, rich, and inter-generational whole. THE PLUS: First off, it’s a striking house – why all white? Fran Silvestre Arquitectos: Using white allows us to maximize the space in the fairly low rooms. The use of white creates reflections of both light and colour that help to introduce the exterior into the interior of the dwelling. The volumes are multi-usage, incorporating a garage. TP: And how have you worked to combat the risk of all-white feeling stark? FSA: The warm tone of the artificial lighting transforms the house at night. Concealed and linear lights seek to illuminate without dazzling. TP: What materials did you principally use for the project, and why? FSA: Marble and wood. Marble is used for the floor and linings of the bathrooms, material that allows the reflection of the light and the exterior of the house. The wood of some elements is of the same tone as the trunks of the trees, connecting the interior and exterior. Dappled shade outside is mirrored in the diffuse natural light of the interior. TP: Describe for us the new identity you designed for this house… FSA: Each room of the house overlooks a different part of the garden, with its own atmosphere and view. The kitchen is lit from the north, which allows in its daily use for it to share a closer relationship with the garden and the pool. The living room and dining room overlook a garden facing east, with more privacy than the pool, which usually sees more activity. TP: The multi-level design is very interesting – does building across different levels pose any particular problems? FSA: These multi-levels initially presented problems due to being different heights and unrelated spaces. After the intervention they became an opportunity for creating new spaces, that shared a stronger relationship. The external pool and jacuzzi offer respite from the Spanish heat. TP: The use of light is interesting – take us through the role you wanted it to play in the project… FSA: On the one hand, natural light was sought out for the sometimes very deep interiors of some of the rooms. The use of white marble on the floor allows the reflected light to enter into the space. The effect of the indoor pool skylight too, for example, is multiplied by reflective walls. TP: What has been the family’s reaction to the re-boot? FSA: They’re thankful that the space’s original uses have been kept unchanged, but have been given renewed character. This renovation acts as maintenance for the space, and improves the identification of their tenants with the house they inhabit. The interior pool and gymnasium are good poor-weather alternatives. Wooden textures in the living room bring the pine forest aesthetic indoors. The long, open-plan kitchen provides ample space for preparing family meals. The kitchen is kept at the heart of the family home through large connecting passages. Ample shelf space is provided in the study. Therapeutically calm white hallways continue the house’s identity from room to room. Tasteful warm lighting complements and offsets the white surfaces. This bathroom’s expansive mirror matches the broad scope of the windows. A large sliding door opens this bedroom out onto the first-floor terrace. The multiple volumes create impressive Mediterranean-style patios for catching the sun. An economic use of space sees cubbies turned to outdoor lounges. Natural light provides ample illumination for the living room during daylight hours. Cut-out architecture both offers privacy and preserves the open-plan style of the house. Furniture has been carefully selected by interior designer Alfaro Hofmann. Counters and surfaces deftly divide the space into liveable segments. The house illuminated at night fro across the pool. Aerial view of House Between the Pine Forest. The house spans 723 sqm. View from the patio looking up the stepped surface. The studio’s work has successfully integrated different sections under a single, minimalist, geometric identity. The family, it is reported, are pleased with the result. The House Between the Pines is a spacious, minimalist masterpiece. Floor Plans: Photos by Fernando Guerra, courtesy of Fran Silvestre Arquitectos.