An intermediate void separates the elevated half of this futuristic house in Madrid from the subterranean half, channeling light to a secret courtyard garden below. Architecture studio Z4Z4 custom designed ‘Casa Tobogan,’ or ‘Slide House,’ for clients who wanted a highly unique modern home with a range of living spaces and a design that reflects their love of global travel. The result feels like a hybrid of residential and institutional architecture, with bright, high-ceiling spaces and a museum-like courtyard hosting a collection of sculpture.
From outside, the home almost looks like a spaceship in mid-launch, elevating itself from its base structure but not quite fully free of it. Within this void, which functions like a giant skylight, there’s a car park, an entrance and two staircases. The intermediate level also works as a thermal regulator, creating a grotto effect for the double-height courtyard below.
In a reversal of the usual residential plan, sleeping spaces are located above ground in cylindrical volumes, while common areas like the living room, lounge, sauna, dining room and kitchen are arranged around the central atrium. The upper levels feel almost like observatories, elevated and exposed, with lots of glass – yet they’re more private than they look, thanks to a mesh membrane that wraps around their outer edges. Between the living volumes and this membrane is a continuous open-air space connecting to wooden terraces.
This glimpse of wood hints at the organic beauty that can be found when you descend a staircase into the second half of the home, where sheltered voids are planted with palm trees and other lush tropical foliage, and accented with boulders. There’s a contrast here suggesting the transition between earth and sky, or life en terre versus the space-based future we like to envision for ourselves.
“One of the houses is organized to inhabit the soil with its habits and routines,” say the architects. “The other was made light-heartedly, emancipated from the ground, in the air, is flying at a double height over the garden. Both are totally different each other in materiality, shape and weight. The most important spatial interest of the complex is the heterogenous, ambiguous and membranous space that appears between the two houses.”
“The scenic load of this space is achieved through the exposure of domestic life circulating between floors. The ground floor is contained between two long concrete walls. These walls cut into the soil to accommodate two ‘conventional and modern’ volumes, connected by a corridor surrounding the empty greenhouse-stage. In the South there is a garden for “the Good Life,” to the North lurks the “Grotesque Garden” – in the middle is the promising double height greenhouse.”
“Over this green sequence along the plot, a smooth surface, based at ground level, lets Nature to cross over the slab and the car to pass through one side to the other over the dining-kitchen area. The upper floor is formed by wrapping three empty cylinders with corrugated iron, curtains, air and mirrors. Inside the cylinders inhabit the ‘super-interior,’ offering total privacy to 9 rooms padded with wood, cotton, linen and silk, surrounded by ‘souvenirs.”