Family houses

Brookline, Massachusetts. USA

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Cyclopean House

Ensamble Studio | Antón García-Abril y Debora Mesa

Description Technical file

This interesting project takes the possibilities of a prefab construction system to the limit given that the elements to be assembled have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to travel from Madrid to Boston, USA.

Building the Cyclopean House was driven by the construction company’s vigour and the engineer’s ingenuity to set out on a trip from the place where it was fabricated —Madrid— to the spot where it can be definitively located: on top of an existing garage, the area’s ugly duckling, in a peaceful residential district of Brookline. The gloomy, one-storey construction accommodates the parking, workshop and service spaces, following its basic structural logic, and is completed with the great hall built above it by assembling the large prefab elements that find their place of rest after their lengthy transatlantic voyage. This double-height, open-plan living room includes the main domestic activities and allows the residual building to be transformed into a two-storey residential unit, technologically and spatially adapted to its time and to the life of its users.

The new architecture concentrates the structure and infrastructure on the perimeter: seven girders on a monumental scale, each one specialising in a single function: kitchen and bathroom, storage, sitting, eating, sleeping, working and designing. The rest of the plan is blurred so it can be shared for different successful events over time, and the functions have the option of expanding in the central space according to need in order to decide their temporary layout. The seven programmatic girders configure a thick enclosure that minimises visual contact with the exterior on the three sides that give on to the neighbouring houses, creating a large opening on the street side where from the interior space the trees opposite can be seen and so one can imagine being in the middle of a park. Complementing this vision, as the girders come together to embrace the space they lose their mass in the contact points where the tabs touch each other and the net is reduced to provide additional light and ventilation for specific functions. Privacy and thermal insulation are guaranteed; at the same time, light and a view are maximised.

To avoid overloading the existing structure or having to excavate new foundations, the ultra-light construction systems give shape to the new elements: solid cores made from foam (98% air) reinforced with steel profiles made fire-resistant by a thin cement and fibre coating. The dry joints and the lightness of the material allow the different elements to be manufactured away from site –including the finishes and the accessories—and then easily transported by ship and normal trucks and efficiently installed by following a rhythmic sequence that has been carefully planned beforehand.

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Localización Location: Brookline, Massachusetts. USA. Autor del proyecto Author of the Project: Ensamble Studio. Arquitectos responsables Lead architects: Antón García-Abril, Debora Mesa. Equipo de proyecto Project team: Javier Cuesta, Ricardo Sanz, Borja Soriano, Massimo Loia, Walter Cuccuru, Valentina Giacomini, Marietta Spyrou, Juanjo Fernández, Federica Zunino, Marian Stanislav, Chung-Wen Wu, Yannis Karababas. Ingeniero de estructuras Structural Engineer: Jesús Huerga. Constructora General Contractor: Materia Inorgánica S.L. Superficie parcela Built area: 265m². Superficie construida total Total built area: 240m² (120m² por planta). Fecha del proyecto Project date: diciembre 2014 - marzo 2015. Investigación y prefabricación de la construcción Construction Research & Prefabrication: enero 2015 - julio 2015. Fecha ensamblaje en obra Date of on-site Assembly: agosto 2015 - noviembre 2015. Fotografía Photography: Ensamble Studio.
Anton Garcia-Abril
Ensamble Studio
Debora Mesa

Ensamble Studio