in the rural setting of palencia, northern spain, spanish practice estudio castillo oli has renovated a dilapidated structure into a contemporary living space titled la ruina habitada (the inhabited ruin). the project began with a client who commissioned a new home to be built on a site located in the countryside which had on it the masonry shell of a long-abandoned dwelling. although lacking in any particularly outstanding architectural expression, the structure quickly caught the eye of the architect as an opportunity to treat the project as an intervention exploring the relationship between new and old, preserving the memory of the site while creating a new one- the inhabitable ruin.

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the structure remains on the site as it has since its first construction, with an intervention almost invisible from the exterior
image © ángel baltanás (also first image)

 

 

the structure, a shell of traditional wet-laid stone masonry supporting a second level of aged red brick, was found in its most primal state with nothing but the outer walls and voids where windows and doors once were. with so many details in the ruin, castillo oli approached the design as an intervention that would preserve the idea of living within a ruin. as the footprint was already too large for the client’s new loft home the new timber structure occupied only a portion of the hosting envelope, allowing the walls to become a fence-like backdrop in a semi-private exterior courtyard that clearly shows the juxtaposition of old and new. 

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the exterior facade was maintained mostly intact, uninterrupted by the new structure
image © ángel baltanás

 

 

the material palette is kept as rugged as the ruin itself. timber, steel, glass, and ceramic tile make up the hybrid composition. a glass facade within the ruin’s walls separates the new space from the outdoor courtyard, providing constant views of the original interior of the construction, with a large-format door that opens to merge the two. new interior walls stop short of the original window openings, exposing the material as it was. the glass and trim is pushed away from the facade and expands 15 centimeters beyond the opening’s dimensions to allow the windows to feel as if new construction hadn’t occurred at all as it is not easily visible from the interior.  within the imperfections of the dilapidated structure lies a contrasting harmony with the custom fixtures and furniture also made from the same basic material elements. 

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new windows stretch beyond the original openings with the glass pushed further away from the facade making the construction almost invisible from the inside
image © ángel baltanás

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an outdoor courtyard is formed from the unused square footage of the original footprint
image © ángel baltanás

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the glass facade and large door form a connection between interior, exterior, old and new
image © ángel baltanás

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the interior is characterized by a constant interplay of the original structure and contemporary fixtures
image © ángel baltanás

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image © ángel baltanás

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image © ángel baltanás

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image © ángel baltanás

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window openings are left exposed showing the original construction
image © ángel baltanás
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image © ángel baltanás

laruinahabitada_estudiocastillooli
image © ángel baltanás

 

 

 

 

project info:

 

 

architect: jesus castillo oli
location: porquera de los infantes, palencia, spain
collaborators: estudio castillo oli/ josé miguel rodríguez baz/adolfo lerones pérez/olga tapia santamaría/mario pereda ahedo/adolfo ruiz lera
built area: 123.65 m2
construction: patrimonio y restauracion s.l. 
technical architect: guillermo tarrago mingo
structure and masonry: construcciones alonso cagigal s.l.

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