The Modernist summer house has a distinguished pedigree all its own. With its masonry construction, angled roofs, and organic cluster of one-room pavilions, architect Carlos Ferrater’s weekend house for a couple in Alcanar adheres partly to a tradition dating back to the first beach houses of José Luis Sert in the 1930s, and renewed by José Antonio Coderch in the 1950s and ’60s. Sert, in such works as his 1935 weekend houses in Garraf, explored a rugged Mediterranean alternative to the machine aesthetic of Northern European Modernists. Coderch reinvestigated the trend with his 1952 Ugalde House, where he used vernacular construction methods to create a fusion between the wild coastal landscape and his abstract, fluid forms.
Ferrater likes to say that the house is a kind of portrait of his client and his lifestyle. But like the vernacular techniques he uses, these concerns are also the raw material for the more personal creative project of his design, which comes to focus around the sophisticated formal play between the pavilions. Architecture is born from its circumstances, as he observes, but it can also dignify and transcend them.