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Villarroel: the Marbella legend lives on10 Sep, 2019 Manolo Alarcon

It was 1974. Bolivian-born architect Melvin Villarroel had come to Marbella and staged a revolution with the construction of Puente Romano, a holiday resort including a hotel, apartments, villas, an elite tennis club and a commercial and restoration area.

This was the root of the world famous Golden Mile and the birth of Marbella as a first class tourist destination.

What was the novelty in his concept? One of the key elements is his original fusion of modern design with traditional architecture, using natural materials for an attractive, warm, human-scale style of construction.

The other main feature is his special treatment of the spaces around the buildings, the gardened common areas, which acquire a paramount importance and, together with the constructions, constitute an integrated whole.

This may seem obvious at present, but back then it was not. His influence has been immense and Puente Romano’s style has never come out of fashion.

Melvin Villarroel has explained in numerous interviews his concept of Vacuum Architecture: “vacuum is to architecture what zero is to mathematics. Zero confers a multiplier power to the previous digit. It allows you to go from 1 to 10, to 100 or to one million. The same is true in architecture, where vacuum is a true creator of space”.

The Villarroel style in Marbella

“We develop our architecture giving preponderance to vacuum and we understand vacuum as a design strategy. In fact, vacuum can be constructed, it becomes the continuity between the natural space and the solid built, and it can be as beautiful as we intend to. Thus, we conceive architecture as a vessel, which welcomes outside forms from the inside, projecting a continuum of spaces”.

Gardens play a specially important role here. “In a way, a building can be conceived as a wall, as a limit to the garden. Perhaps my main contribution has been to introduce the garden into the house, creating small cities with all kinds of services, but facilitating a life in harmony with nature”.

Villarroel’s creations grant the residents the capacity to discover their secrets by means of small squares, pathways and hidden fountains that provide a permanent sensation of novelty. Nowadays, the family saga continues with Pablo, Matías and Antonia Villarroel, associated with architect Hugo Torrico, in their studio located in Puente Romano.

Melvin Villarroel’s philosophy and know-how are present in the projects developed by Villarroel-Torrico architectural studio. If you are planning to buy your new home in Marbella, Marbella or other areas of Costa del Sol, it is likely that you will recognize Villarroel’s style when you see it. It has become an essential feature of our beloved Costa del Sol’s identity.

Scenic, the new development by Villarroel-Torrico in Estepona town

10th Sep, 2019 by Manolo Alarcon

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