A NEW KIND OF CORTIJO: The classic design concept revisited
This classic but contemporary Mediterranean home is filled with the flavours of Andalucia: subtle hints of an ancient Moorish architectural heritage and all the style and elegance of the best of 21st century luxury living in Southern Spain. It is, in essence, a re-design of a classic Andalusian cortijo, first designed by the Romans as up-market farmhouses for family living, with inner courtyards, gardens and flowing water to keep the temperatures down.
Above: This secluded patio is located to one side of the main entrance, beautifully designed to reflect a Moorish past, its simplicity both complemented by and contrasted with minimalist contemporary furniture by Driade.
UDesign’s approach was not to recreate this ageless design, but to incorporate its most beneficial features into a luxurious contemporary home. All the bedrooms, lounge and kitchen lead onto the courtyard, allowing the sound of running water and the beautiful scents of the citrus trees to permeate the spaces within.
Above: The view over the pool towards the courtyard is simply beautiful. With slender cypress trees at the far end, white travertine marble and magnificent Moorish doorways on each side, this is indeed an outdoor living area reaching into the heart of the house itself, all cooled by clever design and the sound of flowing water.
But no hint of rough farm living here, where technology also reigns: the touch of a button hides the glass doors in the walls, allowing for better air circulation throughout the long summer months.
Above: The sound of the water brings a lovely dynamic to the serene setting. The floating stone seating invites you to stop, sit and take it all in.
The Moors introduced flood irrigation to Spain for agricultural purposes, and also used water channels and fountains to cool their cortijos, making full use of the soothing effect of the sound of flowing water. They designed their houses around an inner courtyard, as did the Romans, providing privacy for the occupants in a beautiful garden setting and allowing air to flow through the entire building.
Above: This view here recalls the formal beauty of the Alhambra Palace gardens, where symmetry creates an understated masterpiece of patio architecture.
UDesign did the same here, balancing the formality of the classic architecture and garden layout with the most contemporary furniture design and lighting. The result is the best of both worlds. Pool, patio, trees, plants and fountain area all combine to create the most magical of effects, where it could be said, literally, that the living is easy
The Formal Lounge
Above: The Formal Lounge Contrast is king in this room, where the floral mural and brightly coloured furniture have been carefully selected to stand out from the black and white carpet and light walls.
In this room, the cathedral-like double-height ceilings give the impression of being in a spectacular private gallery. The purple velvet Arketipo sofas are paired with quirky carpets by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, that would be as good on the walls as they are on the floor.
Above: The twin statues of Atlas, mythological heroes supporting the heavens, continue to remind us of where this architectural concept was born.
Cleverly placed glass shelves separate the hallway from the lounge without obstructing the view from one space to another, and also providing a setting for special hand-picked accessories. Michelangelo’s David hangs on the wall, its monochrome tones not affecting the subtle colours in the room. The inconspicuous, but daring, floral mural brings everything together, creating context for the rest of the composition.
Tom Dixon’s high wingback chairs invite you to sit in front of a real fire for cognac and a Cuban cigar. The majestic Flos chandelier overhead might be voluminous but it doesn’t dominate the space. Columns are often necessarily placed in uncomfortable positions, but here, creating the effect of an extending horizon, they become an aesthetic architectural element.
This contemporary feel was achieved by using vibrant colours against the light background. Stone floors and stucco walls contrast the textures and colours of the sofas, the art and the accessories. The furniture, rather than the architecture, is the attention-seeker in this house, subtly complementing the bigger elements.
Above: A sculptural table by Boca do Lobo, with a base inspired by a peeled orange skin, catches the eye immediately on entering the formal lounge.
The courtyard and fountain is situated directly in front of the formal lounge, and the pool and the sea beyond can be seen through the six-metre pivot windows.
Above: These quirky carpets by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola would be as good on the walls as they are on the floor.
The Family Living Room
The family living room and kitchen are, in effect, extensions of each other, allowing for easy movement from one to the other. Family members and their guests would normally spend most of their time here, and UDesign have taken that into account in ensuring its user-friendliness. Different activities can take place in the same general area, allowing for togetherness as a fluid concept.
Above: Family Lounge. The asymmetrical ceiling design is reflected in the carpeting, and nothing (even the sofa backs are low) stands in the way of the magnificent views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The tones are warmer than in the formal lounge, and a set of white Minotti sofas defines the basic function of this room. The dark wood coffee table was custom-made by UDesign, with a pouf of equal height beside it for legs-up relaxation while using the table. A single tree is silhouetted between the marble columns, while the Portrait of a Young Girl, by Petrus Christus, watches over the comings and goings in this room with a rather disdainful lack of interest, just as David does in the formal lounge.
The Kitchen and Kitchen Terrace
Above: With a stunning sea view and its own terrace, this kitchen is the perfect combination of beautiful interior design and functionality.
Above: The pistachio Brabbu chairs lend just the right tonal difference, and the lights by Creative, look good even when switched off.
Above: Inside and outside spaces become one here, separated by moveable glass walls.
The custom-made kitchen, the owner’s favourite space in the house, was designed to combine the comfort of the lounge area with the traditional functionality of the kitchen. With its own terrace on one side and cortijo on the other, one can open the window and pluck an orange right off the tree for breakfast. The colours of the kitchen are toned down compared to the vibrant formal lounge, yet one area complements the other.
The design of the master bedroom reflects the pattern of the formal lounge. The off-white velvet bed and headboard are set against a dark floral mural, creating a calm, yet vibrant atmosphere. The white Capitone bed, the Flos lights and the custom-made bedside tables complete this sumptuous master suite.
Luxurious living is often defined by vast spaces, clear surfaces and big windows. This home has all of that but adds something even more special – the elements of water and earth from the cortijo, creating the perfect balance between the natural and the man-made, the traditional and the contemporary. Just as the Moors and the Romans before them would have done in designing this exceptional cortijo.
Text by Anastasia Sukhanova
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