Arcadi Pla i Masmiquel Arquitecte

Restoration of the old little house of “EL BOSQUET”

Restoration of the old little house of “EL BOSQUET” on

the little Valley of RIU, in the land of La Garrotxa, in the catalan country Pirenées.

Architects : Arcadi Pla Masmiquel & Núria Pla Illa

Year of restauration : 2012

1)   Long time ago, this stony house, located in a mountain range, was occupied by a shepherd family. However, it had been abandoned for several decades. It was not until recently that the owner decided to bring back life to this privileged spot. The client wanted this house to be refurbished as a cottage, in order to enjoy the beauty of the landscape and as a getaway from the busy routine. When we received the assignment, we decided not to make a modern reproduction of what it formerly was. Instead, we took advantage of this opportunity to develop some young and fresh ideas.

2)   This house is placed in an open valley in Northern Catalonia, close to the Pyrenées. Although that is an isolated region, in the medieval times it was highly inhabited, as shown by the high number of Romanesque churches from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Currently, there are still some shepherd families, but it is mostly an area of natural and landscape interest. With regards to the house, we think there is evidence for three stages of construction, with the main volume dating back to the sixteenth century, and two posterior added volumes. Before the restoration, the house was very robust, enclosed with extremely thick walls.

3)   The aim of the project was to achieve seclusion and calm inside the house, in order to observe and enjoy the magnificent views. In this sense, after a deep study of the visual points of the scenery, we opened big windows in the walls, working as landscape frames at different heights. With this intervention, the old and closed house turned livelier and brighter. Moreover, we designed a very singular window: a wooden box that hangs over the façade and opens to the wonderful valley, presenting a powerful volume in the facade. The house is composed of a main space for the living room and the dining area, the services (which are in a smaller volume), and finally the sleeping area, located in a lower level. The goal of the main area, which enjoys the large windows, is to host a singular fireplace (embedded within the central column of the house) and that separate the different spaces in a modern style. 

4)   Materials used:

Well, in the exterior we preserved the stony walls as they were originally, but in the interior we developed a contemporary intervention. For this reason, we placed a false ceiling in the interior to conform a perfect square space, despite the typical two‑slopes tile roof. Afterwards, we finished the walls and the ceiling with French oak boards of 18 cms wide, gaining a great deal of thermal isolation. For this reason, the wood is the most important material of the house, offering a warmer atmosphere, and it was also used for the window frames, partitions, and blinds. Finally, in the main level, the flooring was composed of clay tiles, reminding of the old house pavement; and in the lower level we used polished concrete.

5)   Well, I would like to add that the result of this project is an extremely environmentally-friendly house. Laying in harmony in an area of great natural interest, it nourishes from the ecosystem within which it is embedded. For instance, the water supply comes from an old fountain which has been recovered; it enjoys solar panels that provide electricity and help warming up the water; and the heating system is provided by the biomass exceeds of the adjacent forest. Not only we used sustainable materials to build it, but it also has a really low day-to-day environmental footprint. Overall, we are happy to have achieved what probably is the most sustainable house in the area!