estudio ji architects
"Las Cuadras" Restoration: refuge for a photographer and his animals, Benidorm
architects: jorge frías/irene zurdo
typology: residential
class: built work
date: 12/2020
Client / developer: Private
photos / images: Mariela Apollonio/estudioji

Las Cuadras: The temporary retreat of a photographer and his large animals.

"... his place to take care of them ..."

More than 30 years ago, some horse stables were built attached to a country house. In them “Explorer” was born, the first horse of our client and the protagonist of this story that culminates in this small but very special project that they have allowed us to carry out.

Our client, a photographer, told us that now that “Explorer” is very old, the time has come to be close to him. For this, he proposed to us to reconvert his stables, which were currently in disuse and in the beginning of ruin, in a place without a specific definition. Just a space where you can go to look at your animals in the field, work on your photographs and make rice.

For us it has been a very personal commission since the place was loaded with symbolism and history, and it was that feeling that we have tried to transmit and maintain with our performance.

We were clear that this should be a place to remember where there was a coexistence with their animals that should never be lost.

"... We were looking for a space that spoke of what was and not what is ..."





Idea and Concept

As an idea or elements we worked with were “the steps”, “the tracks”; Marked footprints that do not disappear. In this case we physically had these worn and worn footprints: “Explorer's” horseshoes along with others from other classmates who grew up with him.

We keep the main shed from the stables and the idea of shading the front porch from it. As an idea we worked on a piece protected by a "synthetic tree" that protects, provides shade and recreates a small forest.




External performance

To begin, we empty the longitudinal nave of approximately 11 x 4 meters, previously divided into 4 rooms. We maintain its concrete block walls and roof. Towards the outside we cleared nearby buildings to look for the hidden mountain (Serra Gelada).

When we had the empty volume, we opened a large hole at one end that looks out over the field of the animals and between the room and the field: a yellow patio with holes that privatize the interior and frame the animals to observe them and they look out.


The façades


The façade is variable and reacts according to its orientation and uses:

South and west façades: Where the kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom are located, the existing wall has been drilled with a rhythm of horseshoe-shaped holes through which light passes and these accesses become a lattice that speaks directly to the building past.


"... the footprints rise and become light ..."


East façade: yellow English patio and openings that look out over the countryside.

North façade: circular cross ventilation holes that will act as backlit lamps.

South façade
East façade
west façade



We were looking for a variable and open space in uses, but which in turn contained the essentials for living: 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom, 1 bed, 1 table, 1 sofa.

For this we made a single piece "mechanism" in pine wood that runs along the inner perimeter and that is transformed as the different uses arise.

It was essential to maintain the idea that from any point we can see the field of animals.

It is the only space in which the wooden elements themselves divide it by uses.

Finally, in less than 40 m2 we achieve:

1 complete kitchen, 1 180 x 75 cm dining table, a 180 cm adapted and mobile sofa, a complete bathroom, a desk with bench, a 150 x 190 cm bed next to the field of horses and donkeys and a gallery for exhibit your photographs consisting of a longitudinal shelf that runs through all rooms.

A very special detail has been the opportunity to embed the used and worn horseshoes of the horses in the pavements, recreating that indelible memory of the passage of their animals inside.


The protective tree: the exterior façade

Originally, the stables had a small roof anchored to the main façade.

In the process of recovering elements and saving money, we reuse said metallic structure by raising it above the main nave and supporting it by a “forest of fine colored pillars” and apparently without a logical order.

The idea has been to recreate a polycarbonate “synthetic tree” that grows and deforms on its perimeter, reacting according to the steps it must protect and culminating in a great expansion that becomes the new shelter for the animals.

The result is a light piece, which lets the light pass through the 2 layers of polycarbonate, which provides shade and which allows the air to recirculate and refresh the entrance porch.

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