House for Cosimo Piovasco (Baron in the trees)
by Mariana de Delás

“I don’t know if it’s true, the story they tell in books, that in ancient days a monkey could have left Rome and skipped from tree to tree till it reached Spain, without ever touching earth”

House for Cosimo Piovasco –  aka the Baron in the trees // Understanding Komorebi
On-growing house. Spain 2021.

House for Cosimo Piovasco is the first step of an ongrowing house that will (hopefully) soon get license approval to grow in height reaching a total of three stories over the minimal 6x4m existing surface plan.

“We’ll make an army in the trees and bring the earth and the people on it to their senses”

In this first phase, the proposal executed involved freeing up the existing minimal plan to host the main common spaces (kitchen + living room) by creating a lifted metal structure gangway that hosts a relief panic storage space with an extra study table overlooking the main area and a tucked in bedroom which sits on top of the bathroom and entry hallway.

«To keep his books Cosimo constructed a kind of hanging bookcase, sheltered as best he could from rain and nibbling mouths. But he would continuously change them around, according to his studies and tastes of the moment, for he considered books as rather like birds and it saddened him to see them caged or still”

This metallic gangway is accessed by a light 3×3 tubular hanging staircase and painted structure that could resemble the branches of trees, growing from solid ground below and lifting into the sky above. Cosimo can use these branches for multiple uses such as storing books, drying the laundry, hanging plants, creating lamps….

Details and most of the furniture is designed and self-built to measure by our studio using square and circle section tubular bars welded and painted by the local steel shop located at street level below. These include the sofa, table lamps, bookshelves, door handles, window frames, stairs, storage cabinets, the flexofan.. all serve as a way to experiment with the material (steel), its off-cuts, and the maximization of the space.

Sliding, pivoting and guillotine windows are also designed and made to measure by a local carpenter to optimize and experiment with the glass surface whilst creating a solution on the street wall of a movable blind panel made out of perforated metal sheet that brings in some privacy while letting some light pass in.

Kitchen cabinetry is made to hide all appliances as a way to promote flexibility in its use. These wooden panels are further used throughout the hallway covering the bathroom which is accessed by a secret paneled door.

“His trees were now hung all over with scrawled pieces of paper and bits of cardboard with maxims from Seneca and Shaftesbury, and with various objects; clusters of feathers, church candles, crowns of leaves, women’s corsets, pistols, scales, tied to each other in certain order. The Ombrosians used to spend hours trying to guess what those symbols meant: nobles, Pope, virtue, war? I think some of them had no meaning at all but just served to jog his memory and make him realize that even the most uncommon ideas could be right.”

Personalization is achieved by the latter step of the clients great art collection as a result of their involvement with an emerging artist-to-collector initiative (cinco tejas madrid) that promotes a direct contact between emerging artists and collectors as the means for bringing high quality art available to private collectors by surpassing the intensity of the art circuit.

“Cosimo was in the holm oak. The branches spread out – high bridges over the earth, a slight breeze blew; the sun shone. It shone through the leaves so that we had to shade our eyes with our hands to see Cosimo. From the tree Cosimo looked at the world; everything seen from up there was different…”

The surface of the lifted gangway is finished by a perforated metal sheet that lets the light pass through creating different light shades throughout the course of the day and year. The hanging table top is finished with orange plexiglass which lets the skylights shine through the surface and doubles as a lamp that floods the space with a warm orange light at night. Other personalized lamps are designed and built in different corners and solid limits with the same orange pexiglass and steel to give a sense of Komorebi (light that passes through trees) throughout the house when both in use or in daylight.

The roof was clad provisionally in its interior face with cork panels to provide sufficient insulation for a short period of time as it is intended for it all to go;  to keep on growing vertically; to keep on gathering light, to keep on looking from above.

***NOTE : All italic sentences are excerpts of Italo Calvino’s – Baron of the Trees; clients most referenced story and main inspiration throughout the project, main concepts and atmospheres can be described through it.

Architecture: Mariana de Delás
Team: Pedro Von Bingen, Ines Bonet, Miguel Aníbal-Álvarez
Client: Privado
Surface: 45 m2
Location: Madrid, España
Date: 2022
Photography: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)