Real Estate

In Spain, California-Style Design and a Popular Golf Course

This article is a part of our newest particular report on International Golf Homes, about a number of the prime spots to reside and play.


Tucked behind one of many major roads out of a blustery metropolis within the north of Spain is an unlikely discover: a gated neighborhood of California-style houses constructed in the midst of the twentieth century.

Sixty-five years in the past, the development of Torres de San Lamberto, a residential space for the households of American navy personnel stationed on the close by U.S. air base, introduced not solely a new idea of suburban dwelling to Zaragoza — within the type of a cul-de-sac “garden community” — but additionally town’s first golf course.

The American airmen and their households are lengthy gone — they left when the air base closed in 1992. But the attract of the cheerful, flat-roofed houses has solely grown over time, as has the recognition of the long-lasting golf course, which is now managed by the Spanish Ministry of Defense.

The Torres de San Lamberto houses had been commissioned following the signing of a navy alliance between the United States and Spain in 1953, which aimed to place an finish to Spain’s worldwide isolation after World War II.

Originally conceived as backed houses, to be rented at an reasonably priced value by the U.S. Air Force, a couple of the properties are actually for sale on actual property web sites for practically half a million {dollars} every.

Twenty-two years in the past, Pilar Rubio, an architect employed by town council, snapped one up for $200,000. Even although her residence may fetch double that quantity on the market at present, she’s not promoting.

“There’s nothing else like these houses in Zaragoza,” Ms. Rubio mentioned.

She has a level — public tenders for the design and development of housing developments right here have by no means been as fiercely contested by famend worldwide architects. Richard Neutra, some of the influential architects of the twentieth century, famed for his work defining the Southern California model, introduced a proposal to a panel of judges, made up solely of Americans. But Mr. Neutra lost to a staff of Spanish architects, headed by Luis Laorga, and supervised by Ernest Joseph Kump, one other Californian.

Reportedly, Mr. Neutra was so dissatisfied that he didn’t return to Spain till a year earlier than his demise.

Most of the 158 Torres de San Lamberto houses had been inbuilt two-story blocks, every comprising 4 household items. Though they don’t bear Mr. Neutra’s signature model, they had been undoubtedly impressed each by his conviction that human well-being is linked to nature and by his groundbreaking fashionable multifamily housing.

“At the time, the concept of entering a home through its living room had only been seen in American films,” mentioned Luis Franco Lahoz, a professor on the Zaragoza School of Architecture. “The U.S. air base brought an open style of architecture with large glass surface areas that was far from Spanish bourgeois standards.”

The land surrounding every block was divided into 4 backyard patches, separated by low, whitewashed fences. The items are both floor ground or first ground flats, ranging in dimension from about 1,200 sq. ft to 1,475 sq. ft.

To maximize daylight and provide safety in opposition to the wind, one ground-floor and one upper-floor unit face southwest, whereas the opposite two items face northeast. All 4 have a porch beneath which the household automotive might be parked. Both higher ground houses even have an outside stairway resulting in the entrance doorways and to a patio over their porch. Windows are shielded by sliding pure wooden shutters.

According to Ms. Rubio, the Spanish builders weren’t used to such architectural ideas.

“The design of six-meter-wide, open-plan buildings was so innovative in postwar Spain that the builders were afraid the roofs would fall in,” she mentioned, pointing with a grimace at a load-bearing wall that runs by means of the center of her residence.

Though not included within the blueprints, the wall was erected by the cautious Spanish builders.

The authentic structure of the drains can also be haphazard by Twenty first-century requirements. Ms. Rubio’s neighbor’s wastewater pipe runs beneath her backyard.

“If the neighbors have plumbing problems, it’s my lawn that will be dug up,” she mentioned.

But the benefits of dwelling right here outweigh the disadvantages for Ms. Rubio — notably final year, when the optimistic affect of the houses on the bodily and emotional well-being of her household grew to become very clear to her.

Some of these design parts embody the overhanging roofs, considerable glass and outside sitting areas, which open the homes to the skin and permit the inhabitants to maneuver simply from the rooms to the gardens.

“During lockdown, we lived not just in the house, but in the garden,” she mentioned, gesturing by means of the huge lounge home windows, which open onto a eating space in her neat kitchen backyard.

Five miles away from the Torres de San Lamberto housing property, the golf course that was designed and constructed by the U.S. Air Force engineers who first lived right here within the Fifties and ’60s has additionally withstood the check of time. Nine fairways crisscross a barren, windswept panorama behind the fences of what was the U.S. air base and is now a Spanish navy headquarters. (On a current morning, most gamers had been retired Spanish navy personnel.)

But a rising quota of members are civilians — hardy {golfing} lovers who are usually not daunted by ministry-of-defense protocol or strict entry controls.

Juan José Martínez, 40, a dental implants salesman, has been a member of the membership for 3 years.

“I’m used to it,” he mentioned, referring to the armed troopers on the barricades. “But when I invite guests, they can be surprised, especially if asked to show the papers for their cars.”

The course has solely 9 holes. Its greens are usually not as trim as in different native golf equipment. The focus of the gamers is regularly damaged by the roar of low-flying F-18 fighter jets. But membership is coveted by locals like Mr. Martínez.

According to the supervisor, Lieutenant Pedro Luis García Ramírez, there may be a civilian ready checklist of about three years.

One of the explanations for the course’s reputation may be its proximity to town: a mere 15-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the middle, which makes it simple to suit a spherical of golf in over a lengthy lunch break or within the afternoon, after work.

“I always keep my clubs in the boot of my car,” Mr. Martínez mentioned. “Just in case.”

For Senior Master Sergeant Germán Fajardo, a 41-year-old air site visitors controller, the attraction of the course is in its decreased charges. He pays an annual charge of just below $200, and $3 each time he books a tee.

An added bonus is within the top quality of teaching on the neighborhood’s golf college, which opened in 2013, and final year despatched six of its pupils to compete in Spanish junior championships.

Senior Master Sergeant Fajardo has already signed up his eight-year-old daughter for weekend lessons within the fall.

“I’ll drop her off for a couple of hours and hopefully get in a round of golf myself,” he mentioned.

Perhaps the U.S. Air Force engineers who designed this course over half a century in the past for the enjoyment of the American households who lived in Torres de San Lamberto can be happy that their creation continues to be a healthful household affair.

Back to top button