Hotels: Aire De Bardenas Hotel

by | 19. Jun 2013


Exterior view of the Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Photo: José Hevia

By Pol Martin

Located only three kilometers away from the city center of Tudela (Navarra, Spain) stands the four-star Hotel Aire de Bardenas, an ecological architectural jewel created by Barcelona-based architects Emiliano López & Mónica Rivera.

A shelter in the dessert

Its name explains it all: in the middle of a wheat field, surrounded by the desertic landscape of the Bardenas Reales natural reserve, Hotel Aire de Bardenas is conceived as a shelter from the dry winds or “Aire” of the desert. The hotel is a perfect high-end getaway experience from which to admire the beauty of this unusual natural environment without giving up the luxurious facilities: self-produced ecological food restaurant, bar, swimming pool, meeting room and its twenty-two very special rooms.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Exterior view of the rooms. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. View of the bar. Photo: José Hevia

The art of discretion

Recycled wood containers used in the local fields provide an excellent and cheap source of wind protection for the outdoor spaces of the hotel. They also suggest the same building logic as the area’s typical agricultural constructions. Far from standing out, the hotel melts into the dry landscape.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. The hotel melts into the dry landscape. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Wooden containers used for wind protection. Photo: José Hevia

Ecological architecture

As part of the commission, Emiliano López and Mónica Rivera were specifically asked to build fast and cheap while using dry-construction technologies. Just like the stacked wooden containers, the whole hotel could be disarmed and recycled. Rather than following popular tendencies in Spain for spartan and almost naked unfinished buildings, this project clearly shows the studio’s thorough attitude:

“Working with circumstance and turning constraints into opportunities, we try to find constructive and conceptual responses that are specific to each project and to each site, putting emphasis on ease of use, discreet intervention within the context and clarity of construction”
the architects explain. 

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Panel construction of the room cubes. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. General cross section.  Drawing courtesy of  Emiliano López & Monica Rivera Arquitectos

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Site plan. Drawing courtesy of Emiliano López & Monica Rivera Arquitectos

Functional form and layout

Avoiding the presence of big volumes, the apparently scattered cube structures of the hotel are strategically arranged to create a central courtyard, opening southeast towards the swimming pool. Providing protection from the wind, they also create courts and multiple views in and out of the hotel. The rooms are divided into either those close to the main building with their own private court or those standing right on the wheat fields, like private luxury shelters with open views to the spectacular landscape. All the exterior spaces in between and the outdoor gardens are carefully designed using the colors, stones and vegetation of the site.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. View of the reception court. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Interior of the bar. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Private court of one of the rooms. Photo: José Hevia

Detailed rooms

Specifically for this project Emiliano López and Mónica Rivera designed everything – from the bathtubs and shower plates in folded coated steel sheet to most of the furniture of the hotel. Each room is thoroughly thought paying attention to every detail. On the generous entrance, wooden furniture containing the minibar, safe and shelves, allow guests to leave all their belongings behind and continue to the sleeping area, to rest and enjoy the views. Only the toilet remains closed. The big bathtub has its own window or door to the private court and is only separated from the bed area by white cotton curtains.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Interior of the rooms. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Interior of the rooms. Photo: José Hevia

A new type of furniture: Windows

The window is clearly the main attraction in these rooms and not only because of the view. Smartly designed by oversizing their depth and lining the interior with plywood, these windows become pieces of furniture themselves. They become a sofa or an extra bed for the room, the perfect spot for guests to read, watch TV or just lay comfortably admiring the surroundings outside.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. A room with a view. Photo: José Hevia

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. A new type of furniture: Windows. Photo: José Hevia

Award winning architecture

Hotel Aire de Bardenas is a great, complete work that successfully carries out stunning landscape, architecture and interior design features. The hotel has been awarded several prizes here among Best Designed Hotel 2010 by Monocle Magazine and the AR Architectural Review Prize for Emerging Architecture 2008.

Emiliano López & Mónica Rivera, who also won the FAD Award in 2008, have certainly established themselves as one of the most solid upcoming architecture studios from Spain.

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Drawing courtesy of Emiliano López & Monica Rivera Arquitectos

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Aire de Bardenas Hotel. Window detail. Drawing courtesy of Emiliano López & Monica Rivera Arquitectos

Aire de Bardenas Hotel. View into the private court. Photo: José Hevia

Project Title:
Aire de Bardenas Hotel

Location: Tudela, Navarra, Spain

Client: Aire de Bardenas S.L.

Year of design: 2004

Completed (year): 2007

Architect: Emiliano López & Mónica Rivera Arquitectos

Project Team: Gillermo Zuaznabar, María E. Seligra, Karen Pinheiro, Carla Isern, Gerard  Bartomeu, Alba García

Site Architect: Leticia Montes (Technical architect)

Contractors: Alejandro Ahedo

Photographer: José Hevia

Building Area: 1,500m2