Emilio Ambasz' Cordoba House

Situated on a promontory overlooking a lake and surrounded by groves of olive trees, two tall rough stuccoed white walls meet at a right angle, creating an envelope for the house and defining its entrance.  From this entrance, auditorium like steps of increasingly greater width lead down to an open- air square patio onto which the house opens.  The outside walls are oriented towards the North, shading the balcony, moderating light entering the house by reflecting sunlight, and sheltering the house from Northern winds.

Architect Emilio Ambasz centered the house around the formal square patio, onto which all rooms open, in the Arabic–Andalusian tradition.  This formal square patio is an outdoor extension of the living spaces since full walls of glass stack away to allow free movement from the outdoors to the indoors.  An ambulatory defines the patio's two other sides, and serves as the transition between the house and patio.  The interior of the house consists, simply of a large continuous space, defined on one side by long sinuous walls, with different areas defined by smooth cavities excavated into the floor and echoed by the ceiling above.  The perimeter walls are washed by the soft diffused light descending from the skylights.  The Kitchen, baths, storage and other practical needs are placed adjacent to the living room.  Sleeping areas are designated to the living areas or in quiescent alcoves enclosed within the side walls.

The house was built in the open, and then earth was collected against its walls to create an all enveloping berm, insulating the house.  The building is constructed of concrete and brick, with concrete floor and wall slabs resting on beds of cast sand; a liner of fiberglass, fused at the seams, is wrapped entirely around the buried surfaces.  Insulated double walls and slender columns support a concrete roof vaulted in several places to help define living areas.  The roof is insulated by an earth covering to protect from the hot-dry climate of Southern Spain, keeping it naturally cool and integrating it onto the surrounding greenery.