Interventions in historic buildings are a great challenge for any professionals who wish to bring in new skills to transform and update heritage sites. On many occasions a great deal of care and attention is taken in the makeovers given to this legacy. A fine balance must be struck between respecting what is already there and the need to respond to a demand for new uses and the new regulations to which such sites are subject.
Located just over 30 kilometres from the town of Girona, Peratallada Castle, which has been classified as a listed building, is dominated by one of its towers – known as the Torre del Homenaje – and is surrounded by ramparts. Built on rock, its walls were erected in the medieval times of the Baix Empordà region at the beginning of the 10th century.
Mesura has made the most of the gardens and the surroundings of the castle’s summer house. With a number of different levels, the architects were keen to conserve the site as it was. They likewise kept the beautiful thorn tree that commands the whole garden and makes it flow by placing it on centre stage as it truly deserves.
The garden’s platforms were built using white travertine from Turkey supported by vertical reinforced concrete walls whose formwork is made of wooden boards. The characteristic texture of this building technique for concrete is an extraordinarily good match for the main material of the whole ensemble: natural stone. It is widely used as ornamental stone and its peculiar structure gives a great deal of character wherever it is placed.
The travertine slabs, which had to be extremely thick here, were leftovers from the stock of a quarry. A detailed study of the sizes enabled all of this material to be laid as an eye-catching arrangement of rectangular elements.
Sitting among these platforms is the garden’s other star attraction: the pool. A sheet of water in constant movement that flows over the concrete walls. This feature turns the garden into a magical place, where the sound of trickling water relaxes whoever visits it.
The installations fit in perfectly well with the design, as they are hidden in the section of the steps’ handrail or built into the bench’s travertine slabs.
In order to make the project sustainable, rainwater is collected from the whole site, both from the roof of the house and from the garden’s terrace, and it is stored in a medieval well, which is more than 9 metres deep and dug out of the natural stone. The rainwater stored is used to water the whole of the garden, which has therefore been turned into a self-sufficient outdoor space.
© Photograph: Salva López