In a beautiful yet ordinary field in Porquera de los Infantes, in Palencia, Spain, an extraordinary structure hides in plain sight. La Ruina Habitada, or The Inhabited Ruin, is a special place where conceptual architecture, philosophical ideas, sensory stimulation, and rural melancholy combine in living space that is truly one of a kind. Here, what isn’t has as much value as what is. The poetic juxtaposition of old ruins and modern design has a marked connotation in an area which has an important historical heritage.
The building was designed by Jesus Castillo Oli and it can be defined as an avant-garde architectural manifesto just as much as it can be seen as a contemporary work of art. The portrait of Salvador Dali, etched across a glass panel at the upper level, is an apt choice in a house that blends surrealism and creativity with immateriality and illusory reflections. Glass is cleverly used throughout the structure to create spaces that look and feel as open as the ruins they complement. Walking across the border that divides the natural environment and the house, one feels like stepping into a another world. A Zen-like Japanese garden welcomes guests with its peaceful pond and small waterfall. This antechamber is open to the sky and features a glass wall separating it from the ground floor yet also connecting the interior to the garden. Inside, a play of colors and light along with an ingenious use of glass and reflective surfaces create a whimsical atmosphere. Brick walls, wooden features preserved from the old structure, innovative design, and nature are all kept in balance. Guests can find holographic surfaces, water falling from a 6 meter height in the shower, and a blurred line between inside and outside. Walking back into the field and admiring the interior standing in front of a window, the reflection of the sky makes it seem like it is captured in the open plan rooms. White clouds move across the sky’s surface, floating both above and inside La Ruina Habitada, perfectly illustrating the idyllic and poetic aspects of the design. Spending a few days in this place is a memorable experience you can put on your wish list, as the entire house is available to rent. Images courtesy of La Ruina Habitada.