Let’s make the supposition that we are looking for a high quality look and feel: “timeless good taste” as we like to put it, a home that is classy but not swanky and we are also looking to keep costs down.
If it were me then, as a principal, I would want to make sure that I spend less on the plot + build+ fees + taxes, less than it will be worth when it’s finished so I will be doing a development appraisal. So we are aiming for a classy look and best possible value for money.
I am also going to suppose that we are designing our forever home so, whereas a commercial developer will be making it superficially attractive while at the same time spending as little as possible, we also want the bones of the homes to make us comfortable.
This article is a bit like an architects brief. It also coincides with the Eco Vida Homes standard specification and design principles. If you are interested in building a home it would be interesting to run through this article with you and for you to say what you like and don’t like about what is said here.
Please note that we also design to your taste and budget. Everything is custom designed and we can build for any budget. In fact you make all the decisions. Our job is to make the appropriate suggestions that fit your personal style and your budget.
We always start with the views and solar orientation in order to shape the aspect of the house. The shape, slope, topography, and orientation of the plot, will naturally affect the design so we are describing here some broad principles that we adjust according to the characteristics of the plot.
We are looking to maximise the views from all parts of the house whether they be shared spaces or private spaces.
As far as possible we want to embed the building into the contours of the site so as little earth moving as possible. We will want to make the most of any natural features such as trees and rocks.
The initial view when you enter the house should be impactful so a key element of the design, assuming the site allows it, will be the following. As you open the front door you encounter a double height ceiling and view across an open plan living area, shaded terrace, infinity pool and the sea. The colours of the sky and the sea are reflected in the pool.
The shaded terrace allows you to dine al fresco in front of the view and the pool. The join between the shaded terrace and the open plan inside space is seamless and may be achieved with a folding or sliding glass wall. It is in fact one space. The open plan living area also allows for dining and a spacious kitchen where food can be prepared as a family again in front of the view and the pool. All this is on one level with no trip hazards
We envisage that this spacious kitchen living area and shaded terrace will be used by the family and friends preparing food and eating together.
There are private spaces and retreats. Some may be shared such as the bedrooms with their own terraces perhaps orientated as a tranquil breakfast area. Some may be private such as a study or library, winter sun trap, or a garden that is scented by native plants at night. Perhaps there is somewhere special to view the sunset. We have even designed bathrooms besides glass walls so the view can be enjoyed, in private of course, from the bath.
In an Eco Vida Homes standard specification there is music in every room. Some of our clients tell us they dance around the house!
Energy efficiency is standard with us. You do not have to request it. In an Eco Vida Homes standard specification there is underfloor heating and cooling. This is a truly comfortable heat that radiates from the floor walls and furniture and is quite different from an air heater. The cooling effect in summer is like a cathedral or a cave. The cooling automatically switches off when the temperature approaches dew point so there is no risk of condensation.
The glass wall that separates the open plan living area from the terrace is hermetically sealed for energy efficiency so even when closed against the summer heat or winter chill you are connected with the outside and the views.
We are carbon zero: solar hot water augmented with an air source heat pump powered by photovoltaic panels. The heat pump also deals with the underfloor heating and cooling. Cavity walls, double glazed e-coated windows, and extra insulation are standard for energy efficiency and comfort and damp free home.
We envisage being on grid so our PV system is of a modest scale. When the house is full of guests we can draw on the grid and everyone can have a hot shower and we can cook the turkey.
We love natural materials that give warmth and depth to the textures: natural wood, stucco, ceramics and natural stone. We love to see natural materials such as cotton used in the interiors.
Non toxic paints and finishes ensure a healthy atmosphere.
Low level and high level lighting is available on one switch.
There is a “leave-the-house” button that turns everything off (except the fridge and the freezer), including anything on standby, and closes the motorised security shutters (with override options if you are popping out for a couple of hours and leaving the dishwasher on).
Can architecture really affect your quality of life? Absolutely it can.
Author: Eco Vida Homes is a team of Architects, Technical Architects, Builders, an Engineer, and a Chartered Surveyor. We help people design and build beautiful energy efficient homes designed for Mediterranean living in Marbella and Southern Spain. There are two things that make us stand out: a sharp focus on our clients’ needs and every we do is comfortable and energy efficiency. It’s like Grand Designs only without the drama.