‘jellyfish house’ by wiel arets architects, marbella, spain
image © jan bitter
all images courtesy of wiel arets




marbella, spain is a popular destination especially int he summer months for its tropical climate and picturesque beaches – something that the ‘jellyfish house’ by dutch practice wiel arets architects does not have the pleasure of enjoying due to neighboring buildings. as a solution, a swimming pool is cantilevered almost 30 feet out towards the sierra blanca mountain range – a central component to the home that provides direct and indirect experiences with the water.

image © jan bitter




weighing over 66 tons, the projecting mass features a glass bottom that exposes swimmers to the outdoor deck below, simultaneously filtering natural light through the water to define a kinetic aquatic environment. the infinity edge cascades into the distant ocean, at once uniting the user with the sea. a panoramic window of 6cm thick glass creates a live screen visible from the inside of the home, another way in which the pool is inserted into various elements of the home.

(left) pool is cantileveres over an exterior deck
(right) walkway along the side of the house
image © jan bitter




circulation through the design is divided between a ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ set of stairs that at various points connect and cross before parting ways again. the fast track leads directly to the pool, encased in glass panels that physically separate it from the rest of the interior elements but also keep it visually connected to the exterior conditions as well. the slow stairs on the other hand are composed of long treads and short risers and extend the full length of the inside.

pool and rooftop deck
image © jan bitter




two guest rooms and a private deck are located on the basement level, with 5 other bedrooms spread throughout the other three floors. the first story contains the kitchen, steam room and sauna, and a small service elevator that facilitates the transport of food throughout the entire construct. cast-in-place white concrete constitutes the main structure of the construction, polished on the interior to better reflect daylight. walls made of glass panels wrap the social spaces and fold open to double the usable space of the particular room. thin airy curtains can be pulled across as a temporary screen for privacy or to dampen the intensity of the sun. the transparent partitions also serve to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, as they play with reflections and allow views over the site.

image © jan bitter



image © jan bitter



glass bottom transfers light filtered through the clear water onto the deck below
image © jan bitter



image © jan bitter



image © jan bitter



core of the house contains all vertical circulation featuring a reflective white concrete
image © jan bitter



image © jan bitter



image © jan bitter



dining room table wrapped in semi-translucent curtains for privacy
image © jan bitter




wiel arets architects build the jellyfish house around a floating pool




project info:



location: los monteros, 29600 marbella, spain
program: housing
area: 650 m2
date of design: 1998-2001
date of completion: winter 2013
project team: wiel arets, bettina kraus, lars dreessen, dennis villanueva, carlos ballesteros
collaborators: paul draaijer, william fung, johannes kappler
client: private
consultants: west 8, abt bv, cauberg-huygen raadgevende ingenieurs bv, nieto sobejano arquitectos s.l.