Tulia House, a transition between the sea and the land

Tulia House is located in Madeteni, Kenya, and has an area of ​​three acres of land. This project, carried out by the Spanish architect Alberto Morell, materializes a house distributed over two floors, uniting in a single place, the dense mangrove swamp typical in the area with the Indian Ocean and the cliff that precedes it.



The idea of ​​the project begins with the study of topography. Tulia House is distributed from the low and flooded area of ​​the mangrove swamp and climbs sharply to a platform, coinciding with the cliff and providing infinite views to the horizon.


The transit of the house between the upper and lower floors takes place through a large external staircase. This staircase is 9.90 meters wide and coincides with the entrance of the cliff, framing these views. The entrance of the sea determines the width of the stairs and the patio of the house and the distribution in two levels allows the continuous cross ventilation, fundamental in this type of warm and humid climates.


Tulia House distributes the common program on the ground floor. The lower level connects with the mangrove to give way to a patio with a large staircase in the background. The patio has a small freshwater pool that recreates this union between land and sea.


Tulia House is conceived as two houses: a patio house on the ground floor and a platform house on the top floor


Living room, living room and dining room become the main piece. On the other hand, the kitchen and other service spaces complete the program of the lower level. The communication between these rooms is through diaphragms, very typical of Muslim culture and used in the ancient Swahili architecture of the Kenya thing. These diaphragms allow to generate continuous spaces and at the same time compartmentalized.


Access to the upper floor of Tulia House is always done through the grand staircase of the patio. This makes the experience of ascending through the topography and looking towards the cliff always revived.


Already on the top floor, Tulia House has three small apartments with a small kitchen and a bathroom each. A porch precedes access and protects the upper rooms from the sun.


The whole house is built with cheaper local materials. The structure is made in concrete while the enclosures are made with coral stones acquired in a local quarry. The finished floors, walls and ceilings are made continuously with a stucco called Lamu, native to the place, which has a soft, strong and very clean appearance.


The monolithic aspect of Tulia House is further enhanced by the powerful geometry. The sliding carpentries are made in mahogany and are carved with a repeating pattern. This geometric pattern is taken from the mosaics at the Palace of the Alhambra in Granada (Spain). This type of patrons had a lot of influence on Muslim buildings in this area of ​​Kenya.


Photograph by Javier Callejas and Tomás Muñoz.


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