Weightlessness and Spatial Organization in Z4Z4’s Tobogan House

In its continuous exploration of the benefits of weightless architecture in the ordinary and mundane aspects of life, Z4Z4 Office for Acontecimientos Atmosféricos Arquitectónicos (Atmospheric Architectural Events) designs a house of many parts for a family of globetrotters, Tobogan House. Based in Madrid and Lubbock, West Texas, led by Rafael Beneytez, Z4Z4 describes this architectural experiment, its composition of geometrical volumes and weightless materiality:

“A family is looking for a new home able to represent their trips around the globe, their desire to live in a garden and to embody the cinematic diversity of domestic life. The result is the design of two different houses on the same plot. The Tobogan House is a generic three-story house on a southern slope.

The project juxtaposes two houses and a void that houses a car park, an entrance and two staircases, working as a thermal regulator and constructing a tracking shot between a garden, a folie and a picturesque grotto while crossing through the lounge, sauna-fitness center, bar, dining room and kitchen.

One of the houses is organized to inhabit the soil with its habits and routines. The other was made lightheartedly, emancipated from the ground, in the air, is flying at a double height over the garden. Both are totally different [from] each other in materiality, shape and weight.

The most important spatial interest of the complex is the heterogeneous, ambiguous and membranous space that appears between the two houses. The scenic load of this space is achieved through the exposure of domestic life circulating between floors.

The ground floor is contained between two long concrete walls. These walls cut into the soil to accommodate two ‘conventional and modern’ volumes, connected by a corridor surrounding the empty greenhouse-stage. In the South there is a garden for “the Good Life,” to the North lurks the “Grotesque Garden” — in the middle is the promising double height greenhouse.

Over this green sequence along the plot, a smooth surface, based at ground level, lets Nature to cross over the slab and the car to pass through one side to the other over the dining-kitchen area. The upper floor is formed by wrapping three empty cylinders with corrugated iron, curtains, air and mirrors. Inside the cylinders inhabit the ‘super-interior,’ offering total privacy to nine rooms padded with wood, cotton, linen and silk, surrounded by ‘souvenirs.’”