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Cinematic Spirit Close to Marbella by Uta Abendroth | 7th June, 2019 | Prime Properties

A Zen-like atmosphere abounds throughout the El Ciprés estate in La Zagaleta. The villa, designed by Tobal Arquitectos, is located in the undulating landscape of a unique nature reserve near Marbella. The building concept combines local traditions with elegant modernity and uncompromised comfort. With views of the Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar that are simply spectacular.

“Houses need to be timeless. This is reflected in the look and feel of the architecture and interior design.” Diego Tobal

The planning of ‘El Ciprés’ involved various stylistic and practical considerations. For example, the concept was for the house to be separated into more public and private areas. This is achieved, among other things, by the fact that the building is not a closed structure but a row of individual pavilions. They can each be used independently of one another. If there is a crowd of people staying in ‘El Ciprés’ at the same time, each space flows into the next; if there are just a few residents at a given time, some areas are not used. The white stone walls are typical for Andalusian houses and can be found here both inside and outside. The kitchen with its extremely high ceiling makes for an impressive space. The bedroom suite boasts splendid views out into nature.

‘El Ciprés’ is set in the approximately 900-hectare private residential complex known as ‘Club de Campo la Zagaleta’. Just 15 minutes from Marbella, exclusive villas nestle here in the hills of the Ronda mountain range, home to deer, stags and mouflons. The location is a guarantor of absolute tranquillity and privacy. There are numerous facilities on offer here at the same time, such as the two golf courses and a clubhouse with a restaurant, bar, billiard and party room, all of which are open exclusively to the residents, members and guests of La Zagaleta. If you want to unwind in ‘El Ciprés’ you can also do so directly at or in the house itself: The private home spa includes a sauna and steam room, a fitness and massage room, and an indoor pool. There is also an outdoor pool that is 20 metres long.

“The villa absorbs the landscape, while discreetly blending in with it at the same time.” Diego Tobal

Nothing, absolutely nothing has been left to chance in this house. Every little last detail has been carefully taken into consideration by the architects in order to make ‘El Ciprés’ not only visually stunning but also a home that offers its residents every comfort and convenience imaginable. The Spanish studio Tobal Arquitectos, based in Marbella, had one key advantage: the villa, completed in 2017, wasn’t the first building they had designed here in a garden spanning over 8,000 m2 in the heart of the exceptional nature reserve of La Zagaleta, arguably the most exclusive country club in Europe. They were familiar with the hilly terrain, knew just how to incorporate the magnificent panorama into the architecture, and did everything they could to blend the building into the landscape as discreetly and naturally as possible. “La Zagaleta is a very intimate and relaxed place,” says Diego Tobal. “Our aim was to create a house that would reflect this and even promote it.”

The villa is situated on a gently sloping hillside that enjoys unparalleled views of the Mediterranean Sea to the south and dense Mediterranean woodland to the east. It is made up of a series of pavilions, all linked together with one another. Depending on the number of people in the house at any given time, the buildings can be used individually or as one large single residence. Asked what it is he particularly values and enjoys about his design, the architect responds: “I especially like the process of moving through the house. It is very cinematographic: starting with the long driveway down to the house, then the scenic entrance with the water features, framed by large oaks. What follows is the entrance hall, which visually incorporates the sea into the house. To the left and right the two most important social spaces open up: the living room and the kitchen/living space with its high ceilings and wonderful views. I could go on and on here, everything is focused around this scenic experiencing.”

The designers at Tobal Arquitectos have combined a very contemporary design approach with traditional elements, such as the Andalusian pitched roof with terracotta slates. These help to connect the house to its surroundings and imbue it with a special character. The white stone walls, which feature inside and outside the house as a rather rustic stylistic device, are also typical for the region – and create a sense both of charm and of steadfastness. They also form an interesting contrast to the oversized dark grey slabs of fossil stone. Inside, oak and other hardwoods were used for the floors and ceilings in numerous rooms.

Diego Tobal explains their use by the fact that these materials tone down the extraordinary spatial experience of the interiors and provide for good acoustics. He says: “Our houses always strive to be cosy and relaxed in character. Materials play an important role in this. Each angle has been carefully designed to be a combination of spatial and sensory experience, with different ceiling heights and internal roof forms that bring about different impressions and moods: powerful and invigorating in the social areas of the property or intimate and relaxed in the private spaces.” In the two largest pavilions there is the living room with a huge fireplace and the eat-in kitchen space with a large cooking island (there is also a second kitchen in the house with its own separate entrance). The ceilings are higher in both of these spaces than in the rest of the house. The floor-to-ceiling windows not only convey a unique feeling of space and allow the sunlight to flow in – they also treat the viewer to an unbelievable outlook over Marbella taking in the beautiful coastline and the sea. According to Diego Tobal, the use of the different shades of grey in these areas stems from a desire to achieve a contemporary look, as well as being used as a pragmatic trick: “The colour grey helps to control the reflection of the sun, which is sometimes a problem in the south.” In order to minimise this effect still further, special canopies in the form of shady slats have been installed above the terraces.

“The house plays with different shades of grey, giving it a distinctly contemporary flair.” Diego Tobal

On the level just below the public reception rooms a home spa awaits that leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to a pool, there is a steam room, a sauna, plunge pool, massage room and juice bar. This same floor also presides over a home cinema, a games room, wine cellar and fitness suite. The more private quarters of the residence can be found in the smaller pavilions, which are also duplex in design but with less lofty ceilings. Besides the sumptuous master suite, the villa hosts another five commodious bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, as well as a guest apartment comprising two more en suite bedrooms and a kitchenette. There is also a staff apartment with further en suite bedrooms. The creative minds behind this vision of a home planned the retreat close to Marbella as one holistic entity, from the architecture to the interior design, through to the layout of the gardens and the design of the outdoor pool and barbecue area.

Diego Tobal is most interested in making the connection with the stunning surrounding countryside: “The house reflects the way in which we live in an area blessed with so many of the greatest wonders found in nature: the sea, the gently rolling hills, the lush greenery, and the various golf courses that also form part of the scene. The uplifting feeling that comes from spending time up here in this place – many different aspects of that feeling have deeply influenced our design.” Ensuring that the house felt contemporary was an important priority for the architect. But, at the same time, he wanted it to convey the sense that it had somehow always been there and a part of the surroundings since time immemorial. “We always progress in a project according to the principle that a house needs to be timeless and this is reflected in the look and feel of both the architecture and the interior design.” The collaboration with the clients inspired him to design ‘El Ciprés’, as a thoroughly modern villa with some very special characteristics. Diego Tobal reveals: “We worked carefully and meticulously with the owners to create a home that not only looks good, but is also very practical and works like clockwork at the same time. It was also greatly enjoyable realising the vision together on this project.“

IssueGG Magazine 03/19
City/CountryMarbella, Spain
PhotographyJavier Callejas
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