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 few of the prime spots to dwell and play.

Tucked behind one of many predominant roads out of a blustery metropolis within the north of Spain is an unlikely discover: a gated neighborhood of California-style properties constructed in the course of the 20th century.

Sixty-five years in the past, the development of Torres de San Lamberto, a residential space for the households of American army 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 the 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 properties 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 properties had been commissioned following the signing of a army 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 properties, to be rented at an reasonably priced value by the U.S. Air Force, a couple of the properties are actually on the market on actual property web sites for almost half a million dollars every.

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

The properties on the Zaragoza base featured out of doors areas and numerous glass.Credit…Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York TimesAn archival picture of the army housing from 1963 exhibits the two-story design.Credit…
Gran Archivo Zaragoza Antigua

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

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, probably the most influential architects of the 20th century, famed for his work defining the Southern California fashion, offered a proposal to a panel of judges, made up completely of Americans. But Mr. Neutra misplaced to a group of Spanish architects, headed by Luis Laorga, and supervised by Ernest Joseph Kump, one other Californian.

Reportedly, Mr. Neutra was so upset that he didn’t return to Spain till a yr earlier than his loss of life.

Most of the 158 Torres de San Lamberto properties had been inbuilt two-story blocks, every comprising 4 household items. Though they don’t bear Mr. Neutra’s signature fashion, they had been undoubtedly impressed each by his conviction that human well-being is related 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,” stated 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 golf course was constructed throughout the U.S. army airbase in Zaragoza, Spain, which has since been transferred to the Spanish army.Credit…Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York Times

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 measurement from about 1,200 sq. ft to 1,475 sq. ft.

To maximize daylight and supply safety towards the wind, one ground-floor and one upper-floor unit face southwest, whereas the opposite two items face northeast. All 4 have a porch below which the household automobile may very well be parked. Both higher ground properties even have an out of doors 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 stated, pointing with a grimace at a load-bearing wall that runs via the center of her dwelling.

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

The authentic format of the drains can be haphazard by 21st-century requirements. Ms. Rubio’s neighbor’s wastewater pipe runs below her backyard.

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

But some great benefits of dwelling right here outweigh the disadvantages for Ms. Rubio — significantly final yr, when the constructive affect of the properties on the bodily and emotional well-being of her household turned very clear to her.

Some of these design components embrace the overhanging roofs, plentiful glass and out of doors sitting areas, which open the homes to the surface 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 stated, gesturing via the huge front room home windows, which open onto a eating space in her neat kitchen backyard.

The insignia for the Zaragoza base.Credit…Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York TimesA follow tee on the Zaragoza membership.Credit…Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York Times

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 1950s and ’60s has additionally withstood the take a look at of time. Nine fairways crisscross a barren, windswept panorama behind the fences of what was once the U.S. air base and is now a Spanish army headquarters. (On a current morning, most gamers had been retired Spanish army personnel.)

But a rising quota of members are civilians — hardy golfing fanatics 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 stated, 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 often 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’s a civilian ready listing of about three years.

One of the explanations for the course’s recognition is likely to be its proximity to the 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 stated. “Just in case.”

For Senior Master Sergeant Germán Fajardo, a 41-year-old air visitors controller, the attraction of the course is in its diminished charges. He pays an annual charge of just below $200, and $three 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 yr 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 stated.

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 remains to be a healthful household affair.