Tulia House by Alberto Morell

Situated between the sea entrance in the coral cliff, and the back part of the mangrove, the Dalton House opens to the Indian Ocean on the upper floor and coincides with the mangrove on the ground floor.

Its position ensures natural ventilation in this Kenyan coast with a humid and warm weather.

Architects: Alberto Morell
Location: Watamu, Kenya
Photography: Javier Callejas

The project idea begins on following the original topography from the low level, where the entrance of the house matches the mangrove, to the platform situated on the high level, matching the cliff. In this high part of the topography, you have the horizon view of the Indian Ocean, framed by the cliff entrance. The transit from the bottom to the top is made by a staircase of 9.90 meters wide, a journey made by nature before building the house.

The sea entrance in the cliff determinates the width of the stairs and the width of the house courtyard. This courtyard has a small sweet water pool and connects the ground floor and the upper floor. There is no other communication between both floors but this stairs. So in this way we can say we have two overlapping idea houses in one; the courtyard-house downstairs and the platform-house upstairs.

The house is built from the cheapest local materials. Thus, the structure –columns and slabs- are built in concrete, and the space in between the structure is filled with small coral stones acquired in the nearest local quarry. The finishes of floors, walls, stairs, shells, etc. are made in stucco, called Lamu finish by the native people, a very clean, soft and resistant finish.

All carpentry, doors and windows are made of mahogany two inches thick. They are carved following a geometric pattern of the mosaics from the Alhambra Palace of Granada, Spain. This pattern has had an important influence in some Muslim buildings of this Swahili area in Kenya.