Located amid a rural setting of farm fields, pines and oaks in Baix Empordà, a coastal county in Costa Brava on Spain’s north-eastern coast, the design of this handcrafted residence by Barcelona-based architecture and design studio MESURA is informed by both its natural surroundings and the region’s vernacular culture. Configured in shape and orientation in response to the property’s views, Casa Ter was primarily built with local materials – concrete and stones from the River Ter which flows through the county and where the house takes its name from, and ceramics from the nearby historic township of La Bisbal – in accordance with the “0 kilometre materials movement”, which aims to minimize transportation-related energy use, promote sustainability, boost local communities, and establish a strong bond between building and location. Built for an indoor/outdoor lifestyle to take advantage of the mild Mediterranean climate, the house aims, in the architects’ words, to “to create a personal sense of place, in close contact with all of the elements it’s surrounded by”.
Aiming for a light footprint, the house is comprised of two low-slung rectangular volumes in an L-shaped configuration, one of which is topped by a Catalonian-style barrel vault. Constructed out of sandy-coloured concrete with ceramic insets forming horizontal streaks, the volume’s earthy tones and natural textures echo the surrounding landscape, harmoniously anchoring the house in its natural setting and imbuing the building with a sculptural sense of craftsmanship. Sourced from La Bisbal, one of the leading pottery centres in Catalonia, ceramic tiles have also been used to line the pool terrace which extends out to the fields, as well as the vaulted ceilings that dominate the interiors.
The heart of the house beats in the dining room. Flanked by the kitchen on the one side and the living room on the other, the porch-like space features wall-to-wall glass sliding doors that once opened connect it to the entrance courtyard on the one side, and the pool terrace on the other. Part indoor, part outdoor, the room becomes a covered patio in the summer and a sunroom in the winter. “One can choose to keep nature at a distance through the windows or to let it into the home”, the architects explain. A series of larger and smaller windows frame intimate views throughout the house, while more panoramic views are reserved for the master bedroom on the upper level.
MESURA’s vernacular-inflected approach to Casa Ter’s design can also be seen in the pared down interiors where white walls and concrete floors are combined with Catalan vaults, a local traditional ceiling style of smooth low ceiling arches. Handcrafted wooden furniture, stone elements, and natural-toned soft furnishings further add to the interior design’s tactile richness while imbuing the austere aesthetic with warmth.