The evolution of the way of living and producing in society in general and in the Basque society, in particular, has meant that, in a relatively rapid process, the vast majority of typical farmhouses have lost their original functional meaning.
Their perfectly well-oiled operation, halfway between factory and home, has been disappearing as extensive livestock farming or small-scale agriculture lost weight in the Basque economy and, as a result, countless baserris, often too large and costly to maintain and used only as dwellings, have been left empty.
Acting on one of these buildings, in addition to being a cultural responsibility, requires a prior analysis that allows the design process to be tackled in a sensible and coherent way.
In the case of Garaitia etxea, despite having been unoccupied and unused for years, its state of conservation was more than remarkable.
A small farmhouse for the time but with an imposing bearing presided over by a main south-facing façade with a large gate, two balconies and four openings in a perfect symmetry that imposes itself on the rest of the façades, which are much more opaque and silent.
A small side porch on the east side, which is no longer roofed, and a small annexed shed at the end of the house complete a complex completely surrounded by impressive pine woods.
Inside, there is a ground floor for livestock, the first floor for living quarters and a lower deck for storing straw.
Finally, the main structure in perfect condition divides the space into three bays of almost equal size.
The intervention was always based on the desire to maintain as far as possible the identity of the original farmhouse without ignoring the change that inhabiting a space of these characteristics entails today.
Thus, not only was the main structure of pillars and beams conserved and used but also the solivería was conserved, twisting its function, depending on its situation.
The solivería of the two forged in its first span was maintained in its entirety but detached from the forged as such, allowing the perception of the space in all its magnitude, bringing natural light to reach the entire interior volume but, at the same time, limiting in height at the same time the intermediate spaces to avoid an excessive loss of control in the scale that would generate an unhuman sensation. In addition, this solivería allowed us to support two light walkways to access the openings in the main façade and the respective balconies without the need for structural boasts. In the central span, the existing wooden forging on the first floor was maintained, on which the new paving would be laid, as would be the case on the first and second floors in the final span. This achievement, in addition to a notable structural and economic efficiency, to generate an interplay of visuals since, when looking upwards, we always observe the old horizontal structure (beams, slabs and floor slab) while looking downwards, the image is that of the new project finishes. This decision of "appropriation" ends up generating an attractive section in thirds that will allow, following the same scheme, to grow in surface area in the future if necessary by simply forging over the original structure as has been done in this phase. Once the surface to be occupied had been defined, a contrasting action was proposed, a new architecture that is introduced into the existing space in contrast to the original. The new partitioning is as clear as possible in contrast to the power of the imperfect stone. The new staircase, which completes an existing staircase, is designed to be as light as possible while avoiding touching the existing staircase. Colour appears and, when any of the façade openings are modified, they are highlighted with a metal frame. In short, a strategy of confrontational differentiation between the new and the old in order to end up conceiving a powerful and direct whole in this frontal relationship. In addition to the visible intervention, a second phase has been defined in which, under the same concepts, the second floor will be colonised in the future, accessed via a staircase unit and housing a third bedroom with its corresponding bathroom. Also as part of the project, the reduction of construction waste to a minimum is sought at all times. In addition to the aforementioned use of structural elements, many other existing elements have been rehabilitated and reused: doors, furniture, stones, roof tiles, etc. The whole process converges in a sustainable and circular result that gives even more meaning to the initial idea of preserving the identity of the architecture on which the work is being carried out.