Villa CP in Catalonia was recently restored by Barcelona-based Zest Architecture, taking a secluded farmhouse and updating it into a dramatic but sustainable modern family home. It’s the details that really caught our attention, including the rusted corten steel doors opening into the garden that complement the textures and shades of the local slate exterior. We reached out to architect Co Govers to find out more about them. This is the story of the raindrop doors, in her own words.
“Back in 2012, my husband Guy told me about this ruin he’d found. Then, when we visited it, for me it was love at first sight. It was just a ruin but what a location! High on a hilltop, in the middle of an ancient cork oak forest, looking out to sea. It’s a national park, it’s very protected, so rebuilding a ruin is just about your only option here.
“We bought the house, and about a year into the building work I got the idea for these doors. Most of the outside of the house was done, and we were preparing for laying out the garden. We had an outside shower planned here already. But I wasn’t sure how to enclose it, to give privacy, without losing the view out to the hills in the distance.
“What I needed was a way to let you look out from the inside, but not in from the outside, in case one of our guests happened to stroll through the garden while you were taking a shower. And I wanted it to be poetic because this is a poetic place, surrounded by nature.
“I was thinking about the elements of nature: earth, fire, water, air, space… and in particular, water, I suppose, because of the shower. That got me thinking about how the moisture from a warm shower will condense on a cooler, hard surface. It forms droplets.
“I found a magnified photograph of some water droplets on a surface. Maybe a car, or a window, I don’t remember. They were fascinating. Not circular, really, but irregular and sometimes quite jagged, in fact.
“That’s when I started to draw the doors, with perforations in the shape of droplets. With little holes you’d be able to look out but remain invisible to anyone outside. And I remembered the Jali screens in India that have a similar function: you can look out without being seen. Drawing all those droplets did take some time, I must admit. But, like the Jali screens, they produce a beautiful play of light when the sun falls directly on them.
“The raindrop doors are made of corten steel. Corten isn’t decayed by the rust. In fact, it’s a special type of steel made with a different process, so the rust stays on the surface and then stops. It doesn’t weaken the steel – in fact it helps it to resist further corrosion – and it gives us a beautiful texture and color. At my Barcelona studio, we’ve used it in various projects. It’s almost part of our signature. But only if that’s what the clients want, obviously!”
To experience the mesmerizing raindrop doors for yourself, book Villa CP here.