elii [oficina de arquitectura]


016 · pool house

From regulatory aesthetics to domestic experience


Single-family home in Barajas, Madrid, Spain

The project is located in the old part of the town of Barajas, in a small 4x8 m plot that shares median walls with two houses on the sides and that has a structure inside it. The main façade has a northwest heading. The project involves the demolition of a shed and its replacement with a new single-family house.

The surface area of the plot is so small that it was all occupied. Regulations establish that openings can only be created on the front façade, so the living quarters were located there, thus guaranteeing ventilation, sunlight and a view to the street. The non-living areas and the staircase were placed at the rear.

The basic project includes a living room with a fitted kitchen on the ground floor; a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and a dressing room on the first floor; a toilet in the staircase landing; and a second bedroom in the loft, with access to a terrace. The offset sections allow the installation of a 2 m2 and 1.55 m deep swimming pool on the terrace. This pool provides natural lighting through portholes to the non-living areas such as the bathrooms or staircase, but also serves as an energy shield thanks to the thermal inertia of the reinforced concrete structure and of the mass of water. Similarly, it serves to cool the solar panel at the rear of the roof during the summer months.

The façade fits the aesthetic directives established by the regulations of the old part of the Barajas municipality, both as regards the composition (arrangement of openings, eaves, mansard roofs, lean-to roof) and the materials (brick façade, tile roof).


1. Constructing memory. Memory is an environmental problem. How should architecture handle the conflict between what needs to be preserved and modern ways of living? The aim of regulations is to preserve, but the past seeps through the regulatory cracks as it dissolves in the present.

A 21st century house behind a facade that represents the past.

2. Judo technique. The project makes the best of the constraints established by regulations: the restrictions regarding openings on the inner façade are solved with a pool that bathes the inside in light through portholes.

Just like in judo, the strength of the opponent is used against him. Limits are opportunities.

3. Tetris. The plot is slightly larger than 32 m2. The architectural layout allows this small space to be optimised to solve the problem requested by the client, guaranteeing the privacy of its inhabitants.

A Tetris game that compacts spaces, using as much of the volume and the building potential as possible.

4. The “extras”. The proposal builds a support of elemental finishes formed by few elements. The user will complete the house as time goes by.

The house is the hardware. Everyday life is the software.


  • Architects: 
  • elii - Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios
  • Team:
  • elii - Enrico Forestieri
  • Surveyor: 
  • Pilar Carbonell
  • Structures: 
  • Mecanismo S.L.
  • Area:
  • 77,55 m2
  • Date:
  • 2008
  • Location:
  • Barajas, Madrid