A rooftop pool cantilevers 9 meters (29.5 feet) over the entrance to the Jellyfish House.

A rooftop pool cantilevers 9 meters (29.5 feet) over the entrance to the Jellyfish House.

Credit: Jan Bitter


Wiel Arets is a hermetic and hedonistic architect. Relying on concrete, glass, and not much else to create drama in his severely abstract buildings, he seduces us with the way light strikes concrete’s bare skin or the way space shoots up or down into barren vistas. In Marbella, Spain’s oasis for wealthy sun-worshipers, his firm, Wiel Arets Architects (based in Switzerland and the Netherlands) has taken that approach beyond the logical with the Jellyfish House, cantilevering a glass-bottomed pool beyond the canted walls and convoluting the entire structure into movement as sinuous as swimming.

Entrance ramp, with view to the garage below.

Entrance ramp, with view to the garage below.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

Arets was forced into this strategy because of the house’s site. Near, but not on, the beach, the lot did not have any ground-floor views of the Mediterranean Sea, let alone access to it. So the architect created a paean to the water: From the rooftop pool, the ocean is visible while you swim or sunbathe. The roof structure, which protrudes to form a glazed (and water-filled) canopy over the house’s entry, also bares what such houses are all about, much in contrast to the neo-classical, neo-Moorish, and neo-modernist boxes that surround it.

Underneath this aqueous heart, the nearly 7,000-square-foot house develops as a set of fairly conventional living areas that Arets designed with his usual attention to hiding all details and focusing your attention on form and space. There is a “slow” circulation pattern connecting the structure’s four levels through stairs that emphasize the continuity of both the exposed concrete structure and the rooms that it frames. There is also a “fast” route that takes you up glass stairs directly to the pool, bypassing the daily-used rooms to get you right to the point.

Patio shaded by the cantilevered swimming pool

Patio shaded by the cantilevered swimming pool

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

The house is as accepting of the elements as Arets could make it within its relatively narrow lot. A dining room opens up completely to the outdoors, while a sheltered patio hides under the cantilevered pool. Where the structure’s core gathers to make all this openness possible, translucent glass closets and narrow passages remove density.

The Jellyfish House gets you out there while remaining framed, private, and secure. It might not be as blobby as its name implies, but it instead translates that sea creature’s complexity into human-made forms that make you aware of both how close and how far water, and nature in general, are from this artificial vessel.

Entrance

Entrance

Credit: Jan Bitter


A curved ramp leads to the front entrance (at right), which opens onto the living room.

A curved ramp leads to the front entrance (at right), which opens onto the living room.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

Glazed walls on the first floor offer views into the living area below and the pool above.

Glazed walls on the first floor offer views into the living area below and the pool above.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

Circulation through the house follows two paths, a “fast stair” that moves directly from the basement level to the pool (seen at right), and a “slow stair,” with deeper risers, that winds through the interior (at left).

Circulation through the house follows two paths, a “fast stair” that moves directly from the basement level to the pool (seen at right), and a “slow stair,” with deeper risers, that winds through the interior (at left).

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

The first-floor dining area features sliding glass doors that open the space entirely to a wide terrace beyond.

The first-floor dining area features sliding glass doors that open the space entirely to a wide terrace beyond.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

The white concrete walls of the house contrast against the saturated jewel tones of the Mediterranean sky.

The white concrete walls of the house contrast against the saturated jewel tones of the Mediterranean sky.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

Exterior circulation

Exterior circulation

Credit: Jan Bitter


The rooftop pool deck features white concrete benches and views to the Mediterranean Sea beyond.

The rooftop pool deck features white concrete benches and views to the Mediterranean Sea beyond.

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

The underside of the cantilevered pool structure is glazed, allowing sunlight to filter through the water to the entry ramp and adjacent terrace below.

The underside of the cantilevered pool structure is glazed, allowing sunlight to filter through the water to the entry ramp and adjacent terrace below.

Credit: Jan Bitter


Rooftop pool at dusk

Rooftop pool at dusk

Credit: Jan Bitter

 

Drawings

Credit: Courtesy Wiel Arets Architects


Credit: Courtesy Wiel Arets Architects



Project Credits

Project  Jellyfish House, Marbella, Spain
Client  Private
Architect  Wiel Arets Architects, Maastricht, the Netherlands—Wiel Arets, Bettina Kraus, Lars Dreessen, Dennis Villanueva, Carlos Ballesteros (project team)
Collaborators  Paul Draaijer, William Fung, Johannes Kappler
Consultants  West 8, ABT BV, Cauberg-Huygen Raadgevende Ingenieurs BV, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos S.L.P.
Size  650 square meters (6,997 square feet)
Cost  Withheld