‘Modern in a rustic setting’ – Lucas y Hernández-Gil Architects get it picture perfect in Hotel Ayllon where contemporary design and comforts are fitted faultlessly into the medieval charm of the small town.
“A contemporary reinterpretation of rustic” – that is how the owners of Hotel Ayllon, describe the quaint, charming hotel, set in the main plaza of Ayllon, a small town in Spain, where the medieval era comes alive in its narrow cobbled pathways. Castilian architecture and red rooftops blend in with green hilly fields and blue skies.
In such a locale steeped in history and tradition, to inject ‘contemporary’ is almost impossible, but Madrid based firm Lucas Y Hernández-Gil Architects have hit the right button in Hotel Ayllon which settles harmoniously in with its simple architectural surroundings. Its stony facade resembles everything around it, seeming to imitate the past… but once inside, a completely different world waits.
The interiors ooze the domestic charm of the town in a spatial vocabulary that gives credence to the vernacular style yet caters to the modern, urban man. Say principal architects Cristina Dominguez-Lucas and Fernando Hernandez Gil, “The small hotel is located in an old medieval town, it was thus necessary to create a new and contemporary architecture that would adapt to the existing traditional one.” And this became their guiding mantra while delving into each tiny space within.
“The theme,” architect Fernando Hernandez Gil explains, “was ‘respect’.” Expounding further, he says, “In our design we needed to maintain the scale and the traditional architecture of the town, which was actually a result of unplanned growth.”
A twisted route through the cobbled pathways from the town entrance arch leads us to the main plaza where the hotel sits, merged into the Castilian facade. Mentions architect Cristina Dominguez-Lucas, “The houses have very little frontage, but a lot of depth.” So facade treatments were limited, and the design team stuck to stone walls and retained the original charm and beauty.
While the frontal facade in the main plaza with its balconies seems like one of the many cafes on the street, the rear facade of the main hotel through a smaller plaza has more identifiable elements to it.
The owner gave 3 old houses to be converted into one hotel, which was a major spatial restriction, but efficiently overcome by introducing courtyards and patios. These inside-outside spaces not just articulate the separate structures, but also link the spatial chain, while becoming the nucleus in the architectural scheme. The team tells us, “Every expanse of the 1500 sq m accommodating 18 rooms (all different) and 3 dining halls revolves around the cosy, sunlit landscaped central patio.”
Connecting all the spaces, the patio is spatial flexibility in action – glazed walls and ceilings assisted by adjustable blinds and mobile openings change the dynamics as desired. Cristina Dominguez-Lucas points out, “The patio – restaurant consists of three linked dining rooms, which have different settings for different times of the day.”
Splashed in neutral earthy and whitewashed tones, wooden beams, columns and minimalistic furniture is a theatre setting for the changing daylight that plays a game of ‘perspective and highlights’ with the textures and colours here. One can simply be lost in the warm Scandinavian-Nordic aura of the decor, while relaxing in one of the many wishbone chairs locally crafted.
But of all spaces, the design team deem the bedrooms as their favourite zone; they further explain, “New spaces emerged as we tried to adjust the rigidity of local architecture and it provoked different experiences each time. Some bedrooms are oriented to the streets, some to the plaza or courtyard, and some even to the view of the roofs or to far visions of the surrounding landscape.”
A common denominator in all bedrooms is the furniture – crafted by local craftsmen using locally available wood, in a manner that bridges 20th century trends and traditional vernacular style. To create depth in some of the rooms, pastel shades were chosen, and these neutral shades also act as the perfect backdrop for the material palette of light wood and Carrara marble.
“We sought to create an effect of simplicity and sobriety. The location itself contributes peace and quiet, and the nuances of colour are provided by lighting. There is just a matter of ‘decoration’ and here the materials – untreated wood or stone of Sepulveda become important,” say the designers.
The balance the team had wanted to create is evident in the subtle delicacy and respect towards every aspect of the design, from material palette and mixing, architectural decor to furniture styles. The authors of this hotel, the Lucas Y Hernández-Gil design team, have bridged the old and new, in styles that respect both eras; a tough benchmark to achieve surely.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Lucas y Hernández-Gil Architects and Jara Varela