SPANISH TUSCANY AND JACK HILLMER'S TELESIS HOUSE
A couple of friends asked us recently to describe how PlansMatter is different from other vacation rental sites. Why shouldn’t they just go to VRBO or Airbnb? Why would they want to vacation in architecturally significant homes? The simple answer is that PlansMatter isn’t for everyone. PlansMatter appeals to people who already love (or want to learn more about) architecture and design. People like us. People who typically select the space they stay in first and the destination of their holiday travel second.
This way of thinking about holiday travel not only allows us to experience spectacularly designed houses and hotels, it also frequently takes us “off the beaten path” to places we would have never considered visiting. For example, we are currently planning a trip to visit the Solo Houses in “Spanish Tuscany.” We never knew there was a Spanish Tuscany!?! We have become fascinated with this region and can’t wait to explore the medieval villages, waterfalls, vineyards, and olive and almond tree orchards of the Matarraña region. It looks spectacular.
In addition, we get to stay in some of the most fabulous architecture in the world. The plan is to split our time (10 days?) between Solo House Pezo (by Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen) and Solo House KGDVS (by Belgian Office KGDVS).The dwellings are part of a larger project by French developer Christian Bourdais who envisions structures (all designed by emerging international architects) scattered across this remote mountainous region of Spain.
Solo House Pezo makes a bold symmetrical architectural statement on the landscape, and we imagine hiking the grounds to gawk at the design (and photograph it!) from a distance. We also can’t wait to walk the perimeter ring of the informal porches with a cup of coffee in the morning and swim in the central pool during the day.
Solo House KGDVS, with its circular plan, offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding forest and mountains. We love the concept of “invisible architecture” and are looking forward to staying in a (mostly) glass house. The architects wanted the building to “disappear” in deference to nature. The only objects that significantly stand out are all on the roof: solar panels, a water tank and a purification system. Brilliant.
On this same trip, we will most likely do what is more typical by flying into Barcelona to explore the city for several days and see architecture by Antonio Gaudi, Herzog & de Meuron (Forum Building), and Jean Nouvel (Agbar Tower). However, since we selected the spaces we are staying in first (Solo Houses) and the destination of our holiday travel second, Spanish Tuscany will most likely (and very unexpectedly) become the highlight of our trip. The focus on world class architecture coupled with an element of surprise is what makes PlansMatter different from other vacation rental sites.
In Other News
Crystal (our Operations and Marketing Director) has lately been immersing herself in all things Napa Valley. It's been lovely working alongside Christiane Robbins (filmmaker, designer and academic) and her business partner and creative collaborator, architect Katherine Lambert - of the California firm Metropolitan Architectural Practice (MAP), Crystal is pleased to let you know the Telesis House, designed by Jack Hillmer and the first post-World War II residence in Napa to achieve Cultural Landmark status, is now available for rent as an outdoor special event venue.
While Napa Valley is a destination whose architecture typically reflects the influence of viticulture and global tourism, the Telesis House reveals the iconic legacy of mid-century modern Northern California architecture.
Jack Hillmer (1918-2007), a prominent figure of the Bay Area Modern era best known for his inventive yet simplistic work with unfinished wood, co-founded Telesis - a group of Bay Area architects and planners devoted to principles of sustainability and communal collaboration.
The residence's design speaks of ingenious subtleties and oppositional conditions throughout, illustrating a conversation between the interior and exterior and the private and public spaces. It captures a captivating magnetism and warmth while remaining a marvel of engineering, with its origin reflecting the often overlooked collectivist impulse of modernism.
Taking on the restoration of this architecturally significant (but derelict!) residence was no small matter. Kudos to MAP for being willing to meet that challenge!
To maintain the materiality and integrity of the structure, MAP utilized the same reductive palette - the same four original materials used: old growth redwood, concrete, glass and stainless steel. They kept the original footprint but re-designed and expanded the kitchen and baths and improved the interior circulation to align with a 21st century sensibility. We could go on and on about the restoration...check out this Dwell article for all the details.
Planning a special event? Why not the Telesis House in Napa Valley?