A Magical Balancing Act by Jörg Zimmermann | 5th June, 2015 | Prime Properties
For Benjamín Calleja Westling, the world is his workplace. His exceptional and luxurious building projects mean that the Spanish architect is always jetting off to far-flung corners of the earth. Be it in South Africa, Brazil, China, the USA or the United Arab Emirates – Westling is widely regarded as a master of combining clients’ desire for luxury with his own architectural visions. This combination is also palpably reflected in the extravagant villa on the outskirts of Madrid that the globetrotting architect designed for himself and his family.
Upon arrival it reverberates – that pulsating vibe of the urban melting pot that is Madrid. But slowly the draw of the city begins to wane and the eyes cannot feast enough on the wondrous sights of the Iberian countryside. The vegetation of the nearby Parque Nacional beguiles the senses with its myriad of green, whilst the Sierra de Guadarrama frame the scene with their impressive might. There’s an immediate sense here that all the energy drained by everyday city life begins to flow back, revitalising the soul. Here, on the edge of the Spanish capital, where the spirit of the metropolis still dwells, albeit gently subsumed by the verdant abundance of nature, one feels a magical sense of balance. Still attuned with the energising force of urban living, a path to privacy and seclusion opens up that directs us back to our inner contentment.
“The house is a work of art that’s also inhabitable.” Benjamín Calleja Westling
This may well have been what prompted Benjamín Calleja Westling to choose these 2,522 square metres of land in the undulating hills on the periphery of Madrid to set up home for himself and his family. In this exclusive location, the internationally acclaimed architect has created a villa that combines luxury and elegance in a unique way, right in the heart of nature. The clarity of form exuded by this extravagant residence sets it apart from its surroundings, whilst the conceptual vision behind it links it inextricably with these same environs. As the white cuboid softly shimmers in the evening light and it seems to almost float above the ground, the indoors and the outdoors merge into a seamless whole. An architectural masterpiece that subscribes wholeheartedly to modernism in its design vocabulary and aesthetic. “It’s a work of art that can be inhabited,” says Benjamín Westling, looking down with pride at the reflection of the building’s silhouette in the elongated pool. “I wanted to unite space and time, light and water, to form a passionate mix.” His visionary idea emerges in the form of an artful structure that conveys both solidity and lightness of being on the outside, and makes an instantaneous impression on the inside with its transparency and spacious dimensions. “I wanted to create the perfect home for my family. A marvellous place for my children to blissfully grow up in.” With 800 square metres at their disposal, the family unit – consisting of the two children Erica (12) and Mark (10) and wife Patricia, “my soulmate”, can enjoy life to the absolute full here.
The expanse of interiors allows for a varied mix of spaces designated for personal retreat, for the cosy togetherness of family life and for sociable gatherings with friends. And the family has many friends from all around the world. “Our house is never empty,” says Westling. The villa in the hills near Madrid is a place designed for living. Finished in the highest quality materials and filled with custom-made designer furniture. Everything is positioned in its ideal spot, yet none of the furniture is imperative. Westling’s approach is to ensure that residents’ requirements are always the decisive factor. Unostentatious luxury dominates the interior. Perfect for occupants who cherish life and do not shy away from those intense encounters that leave their mark. This home is not conceived as a showroom. Rather, it is a stage that is owned and used from day to day by various protagonists, by residents and guests alike, taking their place, for example, around the impressive dining room table for 16 people. Or on one of the sofas or armchairs in the living room, where one’s field of vision gorges on the expansive grounds through the giant panoramic window. The ceiling in this lounge zone soars across both levels of the living space, whilst the seemingly boundless windows dissipate the dimensions. This is especially true when the glass panes disappear down into the ground in a matter of seconds. The indoors and outdoors become one, as light and air and space merge inexorably together. And time seems to stand still for a brief moment. Until food is prepared in the large kitchen, and family and guests decide to enjoy the delicious tapas on one of the terraces under the Iberian firmament. Just alongside is the pool, which had served just a few hours earlier as the scene for a refreshing and welcome dip after a meeting with business partners.
“I’ve always had an affinity with creativity and design. In fact it was Lego that first triggered my passion for building as a child.” Benjamín Calleja Westling
However great his embrace of openness and transparency though, Benjamín Westling also had the yearning for privacy and retreat in mind when planning this home. A bedroom suite of some 70 square metres, complete with an exclusive bathroom, gives owners ample scope for an interlude to life in the rest of the house when needed. The upper level also hosts another three double bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office and a further living room. The basement is devotes to recreation and hobbies. There is a gym and spa area for physical fitness and recuperation, a home cinema for the best in entertainment, and a library for intellectual pursuits. Visitors staying with the family value the seclusion of the guest apartment here, with its private terrace.
Extensive home automation also plays a leading role in the comforts on offer inside the villa. The very latest air conditioning system ensures a pleasant interior climate at all times, whilst heating is supplied from an efficient heat pump, with solar panels making the most of the abundant solar energy available. “Of course, the house is conceived in such a way that the technology can be updated on an ongoing basis. A new resident will have to refurbish this and that, will want to revamp and upgrade certain building elements, switch furnishings around and place their own individual stamp on the space.” For Benjamín Calleja Westling and his family, it is time to bid farewell to this wonderful haven. New building projects in the United Arab Emirates, China, Brazil, South Africa and the USA require his presence on site. “Sadly, this means that there just isn’t enough time for my family and I to live here. I’m resigned to being a citizen of the world,” the successful architect professes, smiling with his youthful charm. JZ
Obras Nual 2003 s.l. (S), Licence partner of Engel & Völkers Residential GmbH
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