Innovators, precast concrete experts, forwards thinkers — the team at architectural agency Ubiko are changing the way the world thinks about design. Focused entirely on creating buildings unlike any other, they approach projects with an open and inquisitive mindset that always reaps rewards. Take UP48 as an example. A masterclass in blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living, it sits harmoniously among the surrounding lands. Here, the Ubiko team discusses the intricacies of the project and the importance of driving a constructive revolution.
What is the Ubiko ethos?
It is a different way of understanding construction. Our intention is to make building your own home a satisfying and exciting experience. We want our clients to enjoy the process, turning it into something pleasant at the height of making one of the most important decisions that occurs in life, such as building your own home. We want to create a housing brand that’s identified by the service provided: the attention, the architectural quality, the commitment to new construction systems. The intention is that our clients enjoy the journey: Ubiko is the way to your house.
On your website you mention a constructive revolution, what is it and what does it mean for future design?
We are committed to a change in construction systems. The construction sector is one of the most important in our country and perhaps one of the least evolved. Old ways of building and conceiving architecture still prevail, the way in which the real estate business is approached and the very way of living in homes that belong to the last century.
But there are other technologies that give access to a different way of building and that can change the rules of the real estate market game
We are experts in prefabricated concrete and we have standardised all internal processes so that we can build personalised, unique homes within six months.
Tell us a bit about the UP48 project. What were the main objectives? What were the primary design inspirations?
In a generic way, as in all our homes, the objective was to create a specific project according to the needs of our client, which was appropriate to the place and which found a balance between the available budget and the desired design.
But this project in question had certain peculiarities. For example, it was located on rustic land, in the middle of a vast extension of cultivation and with the imposing views of the Tramuntana in the background. So it was essential to respect the tradition and vernacular architecture of the area. It was also a great opportunity to integrate that construction and architectural tradition with the use of modern prefabrication systems.
Our aim was to respect the environment and the dialogue with the nearby buildings, as well as the wonderful views of the Sierra.
How does UP48 balance innovation with tradition?
We had to combine tradition and modernity. So for instance, the sloped roof was constructed with tiles typical to the area with the intention that over time it ages, acquiring lichen and colour changes.. The project can be read as a folded roof (with different inclinations) and a continuous section. As an extrusion of the housing section along 40m length. This cover is perforated in different areas to create interior patios that articulate separate spaces of the house, giving each rooms different heights and framed views.
Duality of materials was another component. The use of prefabricated concrete with materials obtained from mud, from the area, from the plot itself, for example, and the combination of ceramics, wood and concrete.
A ceramic lattice is used with the same intention as the roof, generating a play of shadows inside that enhances the passage of time in a house that is contemplative and designed for relaxation and escape. It’s a refuge.
What are the benefits of concrete-based design?
All the benefits of using the prefabricated construction system: technology, speed of execution, thermal and acoustic comfort as well as safety, all of which are important for such an isolated home.
There appears to be no clear division between internal and external, why was that important?
The client conveyed to us a sense restlessness and a taste for Balinese architecture, in which the houses open to the outside, almost making the enclosures disappear. Also the intention of having a house in which to enjoy life outside and the use of the surrounding land.
All these premises were formalised in a set of patio, porches and latticework that enlivens the space by integrating the porches with the interior of the house, and turning them into one more room.
The interior-exterior relationship is present at every point in the house and is essential to understanding how the house works.
What role did light play in the design?
In all works of architecture, light must have a primary role and this is the case.
The house has an east-west orientation.
From the first moment we were very interested in the use of lattices to create a special atmosphere inside the house, by generating a game of light and shadow that changes throughout the day and the year.
You use the word ‘fortress’ to describe UP48, why was it important to create a sense of shelter with this project?
We gave it the name of a fortress or refuge since the house is very exposed, in the middle of a crop field.
The facade that looks towards the access road is very severe, forceful and abstract. It appears as a difficult wall to flank and the gaps that open up in them are protected by lattices and sliding wooden doors. This facade wants to be closed to the outside to protect the tenants from outside eyes and offer privacy. The access gate to the central courtyard is 4m high, so it is almost like entering a fortified building.
Once inside, a feeling of protection or security is generated. Finding ourselves so exposed in the middle of such a natural environment, it is the house that protects us from the vast, great outdoors and provides shelter. It's like finally arriving at that refuge where we feel safe.