Hotel La Canela in Piedralaves (Ávila)


October 31, 2021



From time to time, and where you least expect it, you have the pleasure of enjoying a first-rate architectural experience, completely removed from the strict line marked by the architects who occupy the “Star System” and the publications that surrender to their whims and whims. This is what happened to me in a recent stay at Hotel La Canela, located in the Sierra de Gredos. Its owners (he is Dutch and she is Spanish) decided to settle in this small town, on land overlooking the Tiétar valley, and bring with them all their cultural and gastronomic experiences, accumulated in more than a decade living in Asia. They say that the project starts with some small square tablecloths that they brought from China, with the conviction that they would be the epicenter of their new adventure. Then came the tables and the inevitable next step in this Matryoshka game was the building, as a necessary container. And so they raised it. From very simple ideas and an even simpler budget, an architecture of great purity arises in which nothing is superfluous and there is not a single concession to the superfluous. Its beauty, as happened with those industrial pieces of the Bauhaus, resides in that it soberly fulfills its mission. What you see is what is available. The structure, with reinforced concrete pillars and hollow core slabs, is fully visible. The continuous floor, made of polished concrete, presents the irregularities typical of those who do it for the first time (they say that doing it was 3 times cheaper) and the retraction joints arise where the material demands it. There is no attempt to disguise these flaws. The building tells the story of its construction, showing everything without complexes. And the result is as surprising as it is welcoming. The furniture, exquisitely chosen, is the minimum necessary, almost like small oriental display pieces. The desire to save energy leads to taking special care of climate control, with huge windows facing south in all rooms and rooms and with eaves and awnings that regulate the entry of the sun in the different seasons, making very limited use of heating in winter, it is underfloor heating. A small wood stove in the dining room and a very dim lighting, put the icing on this thermal (and mental) comfort. A magnificent example of the benefits of passive architecture and bioclimatic design. The ingenuity and ingenuity of someone who is not a construction professional, but is completely involved in the project, gives the best results in this architecture without an architect. If the color palette they offer me for the render does not convince me, why not add coffee to the mix? And, if corten steel is very expensive, how will normal steel be if I oxidize it, immersing it in salted water? I can imagine the faces of contractors and masons at these suggestions. Well, they weren’t so crazy. In short, I believe that the technicians and other “experts” who participate in the construction process should learn from this passionate attitude and have an open mind, because the best path is never the one we have been taught, but the one we are capable of opening ourselves. PS: If this blog were about gastronomy, the Hotel La Canela would also deserve an entry. Those little square tablecloths are filled with Asian flavors, cooked and presented like only someone who loves their job can do.


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