Heaven 11

Heaven 11

Ark Architects have recently completed luxury residence Villa Heaven 11 in Southern Spain’s prestigious La Zagaleta compound, widely considered to be the most exclusive residential resort in Europe. The development is located ten minutes from glamourous Marbella on Spain’s Costa Del Sol, long known as a playground to the world’s rich and famous. La Zagaleta covers an area of approximately 900 hectares and features two golf courses, residents-only clubs, yacht access, a heliport, an equestrian center, tennis courts, and other upscale amenities ranging from Michelin starred chefs to legal and accounting services. The private, gated estate is protected by land and sea and features 24-hour security. The estate features 230 homes with another 190 plots yet to be developed, with prices for finished homes running in the tens of millions of Euros.

So when designing Heaven 11, the Ark team began with a frame of combining the ultimate in luxury with the ultimate in lifestyle into one united experience. The design concept was to integrate the villa within the landscape to create an almost living organism rooted in the DNA of the site. The 5000 sq. m. plot’s sightlines include panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea, the coast of Africa, Gibraltar, and the verdant Serrania de Ronda mountain countryside. These views are framed throughout the design in a playful architectural approach that weaves modern and timeless elements into a series of functional, luxurious, and comfortable living spaces. Lifestyle elements are incorporated throughout, befitting the luxury expectations of La Zagaleta’s affluent clientele. Materials were chosen not just for their aesthetic appeal, but also for functionality, durability, and sustainability, with a rich palette of natural materials enhancing the built form. For the interiors, these include custom woodwork, stainless steel fixtures, marble, and hand-cut stone elements. For the exterior, carefully curated landscape elements feature pebbled tiling for the driveway, specialty exterior lighting, and extensive private gardens of local trees and shrubs. However, the primary material that informed the design concept and which was prioritized above all others was the most natural of all - light.

Costa del Sol is named for its sun exposure, and residents enjoy 325 days of sunshine per year. Beyond lifestyle advantages, this also allowed abundant solar gains to be harvested throughout elements built into the villa’s design. Solar energy was harnessed through thermal solar panels, heat-reflective glass, and concealed solar panels to heat the pools. These elements were coupled with other sustainability interventions such as retractable pool covers, air source heat pumps, chilled-water air-conditioning, low-wattage LED lighting and a rainwater-fed irrigation system for the gardens. Together, these elements make the villa extremely energy efficient. For six months of the year it is a zero-carbon property. Heaven 11 redefines the contemporary residence by adapting classicist principles to an essentialized form of architecture. Lead architect Manuel Ruiz Moriche explains the concept:

“Heaven is a project that is ‘stripped’ little by little to discover different spaces at every moment, somehow exploiting the feelings of the person who lives there to the point that the explosion of natural light in a basement of more than 1,000 square meters makes this project an experience for the senses in all its spaces.”

The name Heaven was inspired by the design’s main elevation, which was oriented to prioritize openings toward the sea. The effect (as explained again by Ruiz Moriche) is that:

“a direct relationship is created with the sea views and the blue sky of southern Spain, creating that sensation of floating between these two spaces, so it really is like ‘heaven’.”

Inside, the villa features hand-made and bespoke furnishings and fixtures, and is fully equipped with the latest in discreetly installed smart home technologies - blinds and air conditioning are programmed to automatically adjust to changing light and heat levels across the course of the day, in addition to enhancing thermal and solar insulation metrics from a cost and maintenance perspective.

Ark served as both architects and builders on the project, which offered significant advantages when it came to relationships with suppliers. With light conceived as the key material in the design philosophy, the villa required detailed planning and cutting-edge glazing solutions. Ark enlisted glazing and aluminium specialists Reynaers Aluminium to collaborate on glazing solutions that could realize their vision from both aesthetic and functional standpoints. Given the high volume of metalwork and glass needed to facilitate extensive floor to ceiling window elements, a range of compatible Reynaers Aluminium solutions were applied. These innovations allowed maximum design freedom in terms of enhancing brightness and viewscapes whilst also performing at the highest standards of quality, sustainability, comfort, and security. Manuel Ruiz Moriche explains how the light-as-material philosophy driving the project was applied in creating a customized glazing approach in accordance with the site’s unique geographic qualities:

“Understanding the orientation of the sun at any time of the year, the wind, the lifestyle, and which views you want to frame is indispensable. In this respect, we include different degrees of sunscreen as it is necessary to reduce the impact of UV rays.”

For the transition between indoor spaces to outdoor terraced spaces, Reynaers Aluminium Concept Patio (ConceptPatio 68 and ConceptPatio 155) sliding systems were used. ConceptPatio-155 LS (lift-slide) allowed a highly-insulated, slim profile solution able to accommodate the large dimensions required, as well as allowing fixed-glass corners which minimize visibility disruptions. This solution also allows large glass panes to be fixed within aluminium monorails prior to on-site installation, enhancing logistical ease. In addition to aluminium frames having high stability, aluminium itself is considered to be a ‘green’ material due to its durability and recyclability. Reynaers Aluminium Hi-Finity Window Systems were used to facilitate elegant floor to ceiling and wall to wall windows with fully concealed profiles. Reynaers Aluminium Concept System window solutions (specifically, CS 77 and ES 50) allowed double or triple glazing, customizable to inward or outward opening windows. All of these solutions are designed to accommodate high wind load without the need for traditionally heavy glass panes. By using extension pieces that enlarge the outer frame, ConceptPatio 155 is able to achieve large elements with a height up to 3 metres. Beyond visual functionality, these solutions also offer superior safety, with high fire, burglar, break-in, and even bullet resistance. Given the exclusivity of the estate, security metrics are extremely important for clients seeking to purchase property and were able to be optimized through implementing Reynaers Aluminium high-performance solutions