One of my favourite destinations in world has to be Spain,… Majorca to be specific. However, when I came across this country side retirement home on the Andalucian Hills in the South of Spain, I was enthralled.
It was featured on the popular Design Show, “GRAND DESIGNS”, where the long standing host Kevin McCloud was quoted as saying, “If there is genius here it is in the way the design takes some simple modernist shapes and with light and shadow has fun with them…“ I have to agree.
Embarked upon about 10 years ago by Gil and Hilary Briffa, (of Briffa Phillips Architects) armed with a modernist design from their son,(a gift for their retirement as he took the reins of their practice) they set out to build an amazing home. Their first triumph was finding, the virgin plot of land in the hills for only £35,000, which roughly about N 9, 400, 000 – a steal. Surrounded by Traditional, all-white Spanish Fincas, they went against the grain with what was described as a confrontational, modernist glass box, surrounded by boldly coloured connected rooms, hidden behind a giant citadel wall.
They had to contend with handling construction from the UK, traveling up to twice a month to see what the local Spanish Builder, who had never built such a structure, was up to. It was stressful. From the language barrier between Gil and the builder to the local residents not liking the design and the backlash that Gil’s bold and defiant colour scheme received, inciting the region’s mayor to try and get the house re-painted in a ‘conforming’ white. But in the end, creativity triumphed, with Gil claiming there was “no refuge for the imagination” in Spain.
The design was described as “a small holiday village” interconnecting bold coloured rooms that stand out against a large white glass main living area. The flow and visual journey you experience was awesome. From entering the Bright Blue front door sitting in the middle of the giant white wall, you’re greeted by the glamourous shimmering blue of the swimming pool, then BOOM! the glorious view of the surrounding hills which can equally be enjoyed from the aforementioned glass living area. It was exquisite once completed.
Sadly, the amiable and lively spirit that was Gil Briffa, passed on 2 years after the couple moved in to the house, leaving his wife, Hilary, to dwell within the dream home that they built together.
As time passed, however, the locals warmed up to the home and its ‘Atraditional’ colour palette with only one slight colour change made by Hilary herself. The house had settled in to its locale, now with lush landscaping and greenery carried on by Mrs. Briffa as well as lovely complimentary Mediterranean colours on the interior which her new spanish friends, say can keep them in the house without ever wanting to leave.
In Closing, permit me to, once again, quote Mr. McCloud, in his description of this home
Ultimately, it is glamorous, exciting and it makes you feel good just being here, and as a retirement home it’s just what Gil and Hilary wanted.