Project Name12 Volt Retreat - #1 Siurell
|Project Name||12 Volt Retreat - #1 Siurell||Location||
Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca is a popular tourist destination, yet few visitors may have noticed the countless stone-built huts that populate the island’s countryside. Traditionally used as refuges for hunters and shepherds or storage units for labour tools, the structures have mostly fallen in disrepair but not for long if Spanish architecture studio Mariana de Delás has anything to do about it. “12Volt Retreat” is a pilot project for an ambitious plan to transform the island’s abandoned sheds into modern dens where visitors can retreat to unwind and enjoy Mallorca’s rural beauty. Taking its name from the low voltage power supply—a system that ensures fire safety, promotes energy conservation and allows for rechargeable battery use—the renovated hut is a case study not just for sustainable development but also for a creative dialogue between vernacular and contemporary architecture.
Although small in size ranging from 5 to 20 square metres and often found in a poor state, Mallorca’s countryside huts have two things going for them, idyllic locations and sound structures - the latter thanks to the blocks of marés sandstone, a local type of stone widely used in the Balearic Islands thus makeing them inexpensive to develop into rural hideouts. Located in a pine grove next to an old quarry, the pilot project encapsulates both their potential and the challenges in renovating them.
The renovation’s aim was threefold, to reinforce the existing stone-built structure, introduce light and views into the interior, and maximize the available space. Connecting the interior with the exterior, a large bay window, the team’s boldest intervention, provides much needed views and natural light as well as doubles as a sitting bench. Developed in collaboration with local design studio 2MONOS, the window sports the thinnest possible metal profile, an innovative opening mechanism that’s both elegant and ergonomic, and a bright red paint job which makes it pop out against the sandstone exterior and whitewashed interior.
Additional red accents in furnishings and decorative objects further animate the otherwise muted interior palette. Designed with simplicity and functionality in mind, bespoke benches, tables and stools were predominantly have been made using wood and stone, including the traditional 40x80cm marés blocks which the team ingeniously used in different configurations.
Conceived as a low energy, self-sufficient project, the cabin is powered by rechargeable batteries and power banks, 9V for lights and fans, and 12V for loads such as laptops, hot plates and water pumps. In order to charge the batteries and power banks the team came up with a peculiar idea, a solar wheelbarrow, namely a mobile photovoltaic station that can be wheeled to sunny spots. Notwithstanding the technological gadgetry required to operate it, what makes this contraption so special is the novel morning routine it entails – splashing water on your face in the outdoor water cistern and boiling water for coffee before taking the solar wheelbarrow for a spin.