The house on the pig farm

After buying a farm with a disused pig farm, a client asked Josep Bunyesc to build him a house there.

05 January 2023 Thursday 23:55
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The house on the pig farm

After buying a farm with a disused pig farm, a client asked Josep Bunyesc to build him a house there. Bunyesc took a look at the warehouse – 80 meters long by 8 meters wide – with a gabled roof, and announced: we are going to build the house inside the farm. This means that he occupied the southern end of the ship, building a wooden house there, in front of a 40-square-meter terrace with views of the olive trees and holm oaks of Somontano. And then he segmented the rest of the warehouse, with spaces for a garage (at the north end), a garden, a picnic area with an oven and barbecue, an orchard, and a workshop-greenhouse. He then opened up sections of the walls, roof and pavement of the old farmhouse to manage the insolation and ventilation and to renaturalise the space.

This way of attacking a project is not common. But Bunyesc is not an ordinary architect either. “What interests me most about a work is not its architectural composition but its comfort obtained with energy self-sufficiency; I am a radical architect and a bit wild”, says Bunyesc. He says it and he does it. This building near Barbastro, where winter temperatures can drop to -10º and summer temperatures rise to 40º, is not connected to the electricity or water supply network. Even so, the average temperature inside the wooden house is around 26ºC in summer and 19.5ºC in winter.

How is this achieved? Well, studying in detail the passive behavior of the house (solar orientation, prevailing winds, etc.) and investing in insulation what is not invested in artificial air conditioning (except a wood stove and an air pump for extreme cases, which the client says rarely used), and collecting the rainwater that falls on the extensive roof in an ad hoc tank.

Bunyesc used light framework walls in this work. But his research vocation has led him to experiment with various materials in search of high-performance insulation: from lamb's wool (abundant in Pyrenean areas, where he has built shelters at more than 2,000 meters high) to kilometer zero soils, passing through straw bales, wood, etc. Everything except concrete, the preparation of which consumes a lot of energy.

In the fifteen years since he set up his studio in Lleida, after studying in Barcelona and at the Lausanne Polytechnic School, Bunyesc has already projected a hundred works. He has a good portfolio of clients. Because although living in a disconnected home has its demands, every day more people are opting for a new type of relationship, more respectful and less extractive, with nature.



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