INFINITY VILLA – ALBERTO CAMPO BAEZA

It is difficult to talk about light and space without making any reference to Alberto Campo Baeza. His entire written, designed and built work collection states a real lesson on light using and geometry.

Born in Valladolid in 1946, he moved at the age of two to Cádiz, the Spanish Atlantic facing city of sun and sea. During his studies in UPM and his early career he got in touch with leading architects such as Alejandro de la Sota, Junio Cano Lasso, Javier Carvajal, Rafael Aburto, Rafael Moneo or Francisco de Asís Cabrero. This set of influencing contemporary Architects nowadays helped Campo Baeza to strengthen his conception of architectural spaces. Exercises his work as a way of seduction and that needs a very intimate linkage with the project. Thereby, his portfolio may not be the most extensive one, but his list of awards it is and he was elected Full Member at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando of Spain in 2014.

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Too often are neo-modern structures over designed. Instead, Campo Baeza found inspiration for the stripped down and horizontal design. This treatment of form has become characteristic of Estudio Campo Baeza: solid boxes are extruded and cut into response to often-dramatic sites.

“The first step is through our hands: producing the drawings, producing the planes, producing every single thing we produce with our hands. Without hands it would be difficult that an architect could barely move forward. Impossible.”

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17th century served as inspiration for Alberto Campo Baeza’s Infinity Villa in Bolonia, where the ancient Roman fishing factories’ ruins laid. Even though he found inspiration in the local structures of the past, he boldly incorporated a modern aesthetic into this beachfront dwelling that stares into the Atlantic Ocean in the Europe’s southernmost point.

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Part pontoon and part classical stereobate, this villa draws upon these ancient ruins — among them a theatre, baths and a garum factory — in both its appearance and lavish deployment of travertine, cut into to create deep apertures as though it were a grandiose bunker. But this austere exterior, linked to minimalistic and precise designing, reinforces the interior intimacy: the ground floor communal area spills out onto a travertine plane directly onto the beach which is technically unavoidable except for on the staircases and the bathrooms.

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You are encouraged to forget where building ends and where sky begins. The rooftop, where flat travertine meets the horizon and — if the light is right — earns the Infinity Villa its name by rendering the edge of the roof endless. The shaded preamble to the roof reinforces the impact of the design: the access is provided by a staircase nestled in a trench dug out of the hillside, creating a route that simultaneously moves deeper back into the site and upwards toward the roof, which is sitting at street level.

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“I am certain that Rembrandt and Mies would like our podium house, all podium, only podium”.

Alberto states that a Greek poet would say that this house is a true temenos: a meeting place, where according to mythology, humans and gods come together and that is why they wanted this house to be capable not only of making time stand still, but to remain in the minds and hearts of humankind.

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