Different people have different sets of desires for the houses they live in. For some it's all about location, being close to the things that matter to them. For others it's the building itself, whether it be a period property or a modern build with minimalist features. For others still, it's all about the views ... and it's this last group of people who will likely be blown away by the X House from Cadaval & Solà-Morales.
X House is located in the hills of Cabrils, on the outskirts of Barcelona. It covers 300 square meters (3,200 square feet), with 6-meter (20-foot)-high walls made of high-density concrete that were applied at high pressure to a single-sided formwork.
Its most striking feature is its shape, which closely resembles the letter X. While it's not the only building to have had that letter used as inspiration for its design, its particular layout is likely unique. Furthermore, X House suggests that perhaps the 24th letter of the alphabet has been unfairly overlooked to this point.
The X shape isn't just for show, instead being chosen as the basis for the building in order to respect and augment the landscape it's pitched in. The benefits of the X shape are numerous – it means the house fits comfortably into the plot without disturbing pre-existing pine trees; it means the front of the house offers the maximum viewing surface, and views in two directions; and, it means the owners can avoid prying eyes from the neighbors while still receiving plenty of light both from the large windowed wall and the various recesses on each side of the property.
X House doesn't fit in particularly well with the surrounding properties – its bold shape and materials clearly at odds with the more traditional neighboring houses – however, it does fit in with the landscape thanks to its clever positioning on the side of a hill, with the front edges hanging precariously over the lip of the plot. The views on offer from the front facade take in the valley, the sea and the mountains all at once.
The building comprises two stories made up of two intersecting rectangles, plus a roof terrace above and swimming pool below. You enter the house via the upper floor, which is adjacent to the road running up the hill and behind the property. There is also a parking garage for two cars, with a bedroom, bathroom, and study completing the rooms on that floor. Downstairs there's a double-height living room, as well as a single-height kitchen-diner (completed by a marble dining table) that benefit from the viewing vista. The rear of the property offers extra rooms that offer privacy as a counter to the open-plan living space offered by the rest of the house.
While X House offers little in the way of innovative building methods or eco-friendly features, the shape is something of a revelation. It offers a variety of benefits from more traditional shapes as well as being both immediately recognizable and striking.