studio mar plus ask finishes its cavernous stone 'olive houses' with hyper-modern interiors

studio mar plus ask finishes its cavernous stone 'olive houses' with hyper-modern interiors

spanish studio mar plus ask completes a celebration of mallorca’s ancient and organic man-made topography with its ‘olive houses.’ nestled within a vast grove of olive trees, the two dwellings‘pink house’ and ‘purple house’ — are situated high above the mediterranean sea upon a built landscape of stacking stone terraces. while ‘pink house’ stands as an entirely new construction, ‘purple house’ marks the revitalization of a pre-existing structure. the studio celebrates the immense manual effort involved in the site’s historic transformation, with most elements dating back thousands of years. founders mar vicens of spain and ask anker aistrup of denmark comment on the ancient earthwork: ‘this incredible scenic mountain area is one of the most beautiful examples we have on earth of how well wild and human-made nature can intertwine seamlessly, a rare example of a place where man has given more beauty to nature — than he has taken.’

mar plus ask olive
all images by piet albert goethals



with the design of the olive houses, mar plus ask expresses the humbling experience that is to occupy such an ancient natural space. today, each stone terrace is meticulously maintained by families that invest hard labor with great pride. on each plot can be found a small stone house which shelters tools and offers a shaded retreat during the heat of the day. the terraced hillside is punctuated by enormous, solitary fallen boulders, each of which stands as a silent reminder of the mountain’s movements over time. the team notes: ‘it is said that they still wander downwards, but that humans live too short to grasp their slow dance, only the olive trees grows old enough to see this. up here it does not feel like time is counted in minutes, hours or even years — but in millennia.’

mar plus ask olive



mar plus ask cautiously develops the olive houses to stand as a respectful intervention along the heritage site. programmed to reflect the existing stone structures scattered across the landscape, the two dwellings house a kitchen, a fireplace, and a double bed. the design team further includes such amenities as a shower, wood-fired oven, as well as electric lighting and a refrigerator powered by solar panels. in siting the olive houses — namely the newly built ‘pink house’ — the duo avoided the removal of both the trees and the rocks. the team turned to the existing buildings as precedent — most clearly with the ‘purple house’ which occupies an existing dwelling — which are commonly built into the sloping mountainside like the terraces, with stone walls measuring over thirty inches thick. to avoid humidity toward the interior, a low fire is allowed to burn throughout the day.

mar plus ask olive



mar plus ask expresses the interiors of the olive houses with a vibrant, uniform finish — a strategy inspired by the uniform materiality of natural caverns or carved-out spaces. the team designs its ‘pink house’ with a similar cave-like interior and an atmosphere that is at the same time ‘hyper modern.’ exaggerating the geometries and textures of the space, the solid pink stucco is chosen as it is the exact complementary color of the matte underside of an olive tree leaf. the optic effect serves to harmoniously define the ancient trees when viewed from within. the studio continues: ‘this play between house and nature was further enhanced when we (literally) decided to embrace a big stone. to us the stone became the piece of art — suddenly the house was more about sculpting it´s backdrop and being its lightbox.’

mar plus ask olive



while mar plus ask finishes ‘pink house’ with the olive tree leaf’s matte side, the team chooses the shade of ‘purple house’ to complement the leaf’s glossy side. with ‘purple house,’ the studio revitalizes a pre-existing structure built against a rock formation and dating back many hundreds of years. obscuring the boundaries of the space, the floor of the space is paved between the rocks with fluid concrete. the narrow interior presented a challenge with the introduction of the kitchen — by cutting through the two-foot deep stone, the kitchen functions occupy the depth of the wall in front of a sweeping, panoramic view.

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