Van Thillo House

After working on the design for a new house facing the sea, the Casa Van Thillo in Tarifa, Cadiz, for a long time, I now see clearly the solution of a PODIUM, ALL PODIUM, ONLY PODIUM. As if it were a jetty into the sea, so that, over there, on an emphatic horizontal plane, cleared and stripped down, it faces the distant horizon traced by the sea where the sun goes down.

If you had been with me at this truly beautiful site, with the Atlantic Ocean in front, you'd have had no doubt about what to do: establish a horizontal plane on high, made of sand, in order to go into raptures in front of the infinite sea. Nothing more and nothing less.

To do so, we built a large box, 20 meters in front and 12 meters deep with two floors below this plane. On those two floors dug out of the solid rock are the eight bedrooms that open on the sides, each one with its own bath. Six below and two above. And the corresponding living spaces: on the first floor, the main living room with the dining room and kitchen that open onto a large porch. Both floors are connected by a staircase and a large mobile platform that also reaches the rooftop.

On the upper part, and coinciding with street level, the large almost metaphysical platform that we wanted to be made of sand. To do so, the entire large prism, platform included, is materialized in Iumaquela: a limestone that with its exquisite lamellibranchia resembles the same sand of the beach, only crystallized. Which is what it is. For this platform to have strength, we incorporate all of the land until the entrance wall.
In that way, we achieve a stone platform measuring 20x40 meters. We are separated from the street by a high stone wall in the same lumaquela.

The entrance into the house, crossing the wall, is made "in trenches" through some stairs dug into the platform's plane. And to protect us from the strong winds of Tarifa, we have placed several vertical planes of opaque white glass in the manner of screens that resemble sails on our surrealist raft. 

There is a lovely etching by Rembrandt from 1655, "Christ Presented before the People" that has always fascinated me. In it, Rembrandt sketches a straight horizontal line. Perfectly straight and perfectly horizontal. It is the border of the powerful dais, the platform on which the scene takes place‘ There, as Mies did so often, he has made the plane into a line. I am certain that Rembrandt and Mies would like our podium house, all podium, only podium. And Adalberto Libera, who did the same thing when he built the Malaparte House in Capri. And we like it too. And when we look at our house from the beach, we will be reminded of Rembrandt and Malaparte House and ships.

Description from architect


4 photos and 2 drawings

Building Activity

  • Joana Lazarova
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    Van Thillo House
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  • Nadezhda Nikolova
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