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 2,200 acres 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 dollars.
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 53,000 sq ft. 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.
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 10,700 sq. ft. makes this project an experience for the senses in all its spaces.
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.
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’.
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: