When entrepreneur and industrial designer Gorka Ibargoyen invested in a bit of Basque country hillside just east of Bilbao and San Sebastian, he had in mind a small inn where guests could unplug from city life and immerse themselves into the site’s forested landscape. To realize this vision, he hired Jordi Hidalgo Tané, a Barcelona-based architect and the designer behind a string of contemporary houses thoughtfully integrated into their environments.
The site came with a 100-year-old stone house in a state of considerable disrepair. “I wouldn’t really have called it a house,” says Hidalgo Tané. “It was more of a construction, an unfinished shell.” Renovations to it shored up its structure and added a series of contemporary guest rooms. A black steel staircase connects the building’s three floors and provides contemporary sculptural relief in the historic context.
To add to the property’s programming opportunities, Hidalgo Tané conceived of an addition to the house that would provide space for dining, cooking, gathering, and small music performances. And in tucking it from view by embedding it into the hillside, he preserved the property’s raison d’etre: opportunity to be amid lush countryside.
The addition responds to the site’s environment and climate. Its floor-to-ceiling glass walls face south, which positions the new space to not only provide sweeping views of the surrounding countryside but also to allow the maximum amount of sunlight into the space. Strategically positioned skylights bring light deep into the addition and modulate natural light throughout the day.
Calling it “something like a modern cave,” Hidalgo Tané arrayed the space to allow for indoor/outdoor use. “It’s an Atlantic climate,” he explains. “It’s not so cold, but it’s not too hot, and it rains almost every day but not too much.” Accordingly, he created spaces work in a range of environmental conditions.
An outdoor grill, for example, is set under a concrete overhang, allowing guests to grill in the rain. The environmental connectedness and deference to the original structure gives the contemporary addition a sense of timelessness. As Hidalgo Tané puts it, “It’s as though the addition was there before the house.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest