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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.94 Santiago dic. 2016 

Works & projects

OE House. A techno-peasant odyssey in three acts, Tarragona, Spain

Cristina Goberna1  * 

Urtzi Grau2  ** 

David Tapias3  *** 

1Cofundadora Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Barcelona, España.

2Cofundador Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Barcelona, España.

3Director Aixopluc, Barcelona, España.


This house comes from a cross between several imaginaries: the traditional house and the modern house; local technique and industrial technology; the winter house and the summer house; Le Corbusier's Maison Jaoul and Craig Ellwood's Stahl House; everyday life in the countryside and global media exposure. Starting from these crossings, the project consistently negotiates these imaginaries giving birth to a completely unprecedented result.

Keywords: copy; tradition; open systems; crisis; Spain

Figure 1 Axonometric. Not scaled. 

Scene 1

Well, here I am. I arrived at the oe house. I think so at least. Yes, this is it. I wonder if anybody else is coming. The commission was bizarre. Bizarre in a good sense. So, I have all the camera gear with me. I brought it all the way from Barcelona. I'm supposed to take pictures of the house during a calcotada, that is, while the owners and their friends roast onions on a fire. Ok. Onions and architecture. Perfect combination for these 'hunger game' times, I guess.


Good morning. I am the photographer. Have you seen the architects or the contractor?


Good morning, you should be the owner of the house. I am the photographer. Yes, I will take nice pictures of your family, of course. Yes, of the dog too. Hey, I am looking for the architects and the contractor. What is that you say? The contractor is non-existent. What do you mean? And, the architects? So, they are not coming? Are you sure? Oh, are they currently abroad? Ah, one of them is local and is around.


Really? Did a school of architecture come the other day to see the house? I guess they knew it was exhibited at the Venice Biennial this year. Of course, but wait, they were not interested in the design you say. That is strange. Yes, I would love a roasted onion, thank you. A glass of wine would also be nice. I wonder how it is possible that the students of that architecture school were not curious about its design... the house has been published everywhere. So, they came to see how the rooftop or Catalan vaults were built using a local vernacular technique. What about the fact that it is conceived following a free replica of the Maison Jaoul by Le Corbusier and the Californian Case Study Houses? Yes, yes, I am also an architect. You don't know about that... that is fine. Give me another onion. You don't have to pose, just eat normally for the pictures. Perfect, thank you.


Oh, hello. So, are you the builder of the famous Catalan vaults? It is nice to meet you. I heard your work has many fans. I see, so it is a technique that is disappearing. Do you want more wine? Yes, me too. So, you spoke with those local architecture students I understand. Oh, I see, they wanted to forget about books and concentrate in bricks... that might be either a local interest or, now that I think about it, it might be related to the wave of anti-intellectualism that we have seen in some places, especially after the financial crisis. Fewer books and more hands on bricks... a voluntary oblivion of a whole field. Scary but spread out. A diy fever and the return of the vernacular. Well, the house is definitely not explained as such. Oh, sorry I was speaking to myself. Forget about it and give me that onion... yes, the whole bunch would be better


I think I have already spoken with everybody, I'm not sure I can drive back though. The pictures look fine but it's not possible to eat roasted calcots and work really.

Scene 2

Bon dia,5 so here we are. We made it. O and E finally moved in. You said it would take only a year to build the house and it has been four years and a half! The calcots look good, don't they? I just picked them up this morning with my own hands, here, at the orchard. Can you help me with the fire? Now that we know each other better, may I ask you why did you come to the construction site everyday? While I was taking care of the vegetables I saw you coming even the days when the contractor didn't show up. Do you remember when the neighbors came by asking if we were building a rural warehouse or a mas6? Which one is it, really? I never understood what you architects were doing. This house doesn't look like a house! You say that it's not a house but a habitat? Be careful with the fire! Oh, I'm sorry for your trousers, didn't mean to make you nervous! I see, so it's none of them. But where do you get inspiration from when you start a project? Oh, so you were looking for a habitat in good weather conditions? Did you want to make it warm when it was freezing and windy outside? I see... and cool in hot summer days... like houses used to be in the old days. And it had to be really easy to build. I would argue that! Did you learn all these things at the University? Smile at the camera... smile a little. Mosso7 get some more wine... yes, it is made in this town!


(Laughing). Architects are really strange. But I must give you that; it was a beautiful idea to organize this celebration! Look at the photographer, isn't she drinking too much? Hey builder, don't give her the whole bunch! Now young man come with me, we have some lamb to grill!

Scene 3

(...) Buf, quin rollo,8 all guests left really late yesterday. I wonder if the photographer was able to make it back home. Time to get up. My friends are coming and we'll play around the hazel trees. Yes, daddy, I'll bring you an aspirin... Do you have a hangover? What is that?


What a nice weather: It is January, sunny and not too windy... We started talking about this house when I was very little, I can barely remember. I have some recollection of drawing my own dream home at the architect's office. My parents were telling them that they wanted half the house for summer and half for winter. Sometimes it was really hard for them to understand the architects' ideas, their references or something like that. They were expecting a traditional mas like the one next door. My father says we were lucky enough to live across the street during the construction so we could slowly get used to these thing that we didn't quite understand. And we did some work ourselves. Damned contractor! But my parents say that the house now finally makes sense to them. It exceeds their expectations, or something like that... Oh, there's lots of birds today!


Bon dia mom, give this pill to pop. I'm going downstairs.Yes, it's sunny. I don't need my sweater then.


I have made this lower half my playground. Now that the sun is shining, it is quite warm in here. But wasn't it supposed to be just for summer? And on the top floor in summer is cool and silent. It's nice to spend some time there when everybody has moved downstairs. But wasn't it just for winter? Maybe the architects messed up... they were too serious... the builder was kind though...


Good morning uncle! Are you already working in your orchard? Do you remember when that architecture school came? They said there was a lot of research in the design of this house... something about putting together handcrafted and industrialized materials and answers to different climates. What else uncle? "Open systems," they said. I wonder what does it mean.


Angus,9 what are you doing with that camera? Gimme that! Oh, look... these are some cool pictures!


Hey uncle, who's that modern girl sleeping under a hazel tree? Get a bucket of ice; let's wake her up...


Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Aixopluc


Camí de Sant Antoni, 26, Alforja, Tarragona, España

Architects in charge

Cristina Goberna, Urtzi Grau, David Tapias


Ricard Pau, Jordi Royo, Josep Maria Delmuns

Built area

330 m2

Project year


Construction year



OE Family, Borruey, Aluminis Ortiz, Fusteria Florentin


OE Family


Construcciones Saura SL


US$ 970 / m2


José Hevia, Raúl Ruz

Creative Commons License Este es un artículo publicado en acceso abierto bajo una licencia Creative Commons