The startling Spanish villa that breaks all the rules

Oliver Wainwright   /  Source:  The Guardian

Abright-green steel frame perches on a steeply sloping site north of Valencia, Spain, projecting out from the hill above a busy main road. It forms a large 3D grid, some of its spaces filled with white cubic volumes, others left empty as if still awaiting their final function.

“People kept asking if it was going to be a supermarket,” says architect Fredrik Hellberg, standing beneath the 10-metre-high frame. It’s a fair question: in Nueva Santa Barbara, a new suburb where houses are variously neo-Moorish, Spanish rustic or developer modern, this startling new home is unlike any other for miles around.

It is the first completed building by Space Popular, a young London-based practice founded by Hellberg and his partner, Lara Lesmes, in 2013 in Bangkok, where for five years they taught architecture. Working in the Thai metropolis gave them the rare luxury of being able to afford bespoke craftsmanship, even on limited budgets, allowing them to have every element of their first interior projects handmade to their designs, from furniture to fittings. Their work for a local spa chain features tubular steel chairs in minty green with yellow leather seats, pink marble countertops and baby-blue reclining loungers with a retro-futuristic feel. It takes pleasure in both natural and synthetic textures, combining diaphanous pleated curtains with raw concrete, leather and glossy resin floors... [+]

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