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.
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.
A number of covered and open plan terraces are also integrated into the design, fusing outdoor and indoor functions and blurring the distinction between building and landscape. The entrance level features a double height entryway offering a loft impression, with elevators and ornate stairwells leading to the upper floor. Beyond the foyer lies a palatial open-plan living room and dining/kitchen area with sweeping sea views. The entry level also features several guest bedrooms with en-suites and an intimate, family-oriented sitting room with sumptuous furnishings and a cozy fireplace. Beyond the indoor functions, patios and terraces extend outdoors to a grand infinity pool, chill-out bar and bbq, lounge area, jacuzzi, and extensive landscaped gardens.
The majority of the entry level rooms feature full-size glazed walls that open out to the breathtaking ocean and mountain vistas. On the top level of the villa, a master suite and additional bedroom suites also feature floor to ceiling windows and outdoor patios. A lower basement level allows a much larger area footprint than the rest of the villa and was envisaged as an all-encompassing entertainment hub. This floor is equipped with a gym, cinema, six-car garage, self-contained guest or staff apartments with private entrances, spa, steam room, heated indoor infinity pool and a bespoke wine cellar complete with a tasting room.
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:
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:
This theme is further enhanced through lattice-style and cut-out elements in facades and cantilevers which extend the stripping motif, creating patterns of light and shade which move and play with the sunlight as it filters at different angles throughout the day. The facades also serve to create a sense of privacy for residents and guests without compromising the feeling of spaciousness and connectedness with the landscape and open air beyond. The gardens feature native Mediterranean species, literally rooting the property within its geographic dialect. Both the indoor and outdoor infinity pools are minimalist in design, again providing the luxury lifestyle elements that residents expect whilst minimizing the disruption of technology or built form into the tranquility of water and nature. 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 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:
Reynaers are pioneers in championing eco-friendly construction, and glazing solutions were chosen for their ability both to maximize views but also to perform at the highest levels with regard to thermal performance. Exceptional water and wind tightness minimize thermal losses whilst maximizing thermal gains.
For the transition between indoor spaces to outdoor terraced spaces, Reynaers’ Concept Patio (CP 68 and CP 155) sliding systems were used. CP-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’ Hi-Finity Window Systems were used to facilitate elegant floor to ceiling and wall to wall windows with fully concealed profiles. Reynaers’ 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, CP 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’ high-performance solutions
The culmination of this collaboration is a spectacular and unique residence which integrates livability, lifestyle, and comfort functions seamlessly into one dwelling, which is in turn located within a naturally and recreationally abundant, highly sought-after locale. The latest in eco-friendly and technological innovations express the property as a contemporary articulation of the classic resort relaxation lifestyle. This quality is further intensified by the inclusion of the latest in bespoke luxury, entertainment, leisure, and comfort enhancing furnishings and finishes. Villa Heaven 11 goes beyond being simply a home to being an experience. By prioritizing the emotions and well-being of inhabitants from the outset and taking an organic approach to the design process, a sensory journey is undertaken through the architectonic experience of moving throughout the villa’s levels and extensive grounds. Inherently experiential, Villa Heaven 11 offers its occupants a slice of otherworldly heaven anchored and rooted into the life sustaining earth.