As the land plan for the 8-acre site that became Cáceres came together, we felt that it had classic lines and a European conscience. We began reading and researching and discovered the land plans of the "pueblos blancos," the indigenous architecture of the high Andalusian plains in Southern Spain.
Historically, building homes on those plains subjected inhabitants to marauders and bandits sweeping through the area. In reaction, residents built fortified hilltop towns with remarkably modern footprints, each surrounded by a wall and gated (with sentries posted) since security was always a priority. They had large public plazas – usually with an adjacent cathedral – for community celebrations that also served as a source of scenic inspiration, defining the place and the uniqueness of that particular town. And the homes themselves were townhomes, with an abundance of balconies, walkouts, and open air rooftop terraces jutting out from different levels and angles. The walls were whitewashed and topped with traditional Spanish tile, embodying a clean, crisp environment simultaneously refreshing and inviting once inside.
We were intrigued. We decided to further our understanding of the "pueblos blancos" and to confirm the proper layout of the overall community. We wanted to understand the pedestrian scale as well as to chronicle key elements for the architecture of the homes individually and in relationship to one another.
We spent a week traveling the region with architect and cameras in tow, visiting cities such as Sevilla and Cadiz then smaller towns like Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Medina-Sidonia, and Grazalema, among others. We climbed the steps of the central cathedral each time, then walked the side streets, back alleys, and public plazas, all the while taking copious notes and pictures. We spent time in the cafes, observing the connected lives of the Europeans who walked and talked openly with neighbors and shop owners. We embraced the open-air feeling of each town.
The name "Cáceres" is borrowed from one of these small towns in Southern Spain and also happens to be the name of the group's favorite wine from the trip. We are excited to bring this time-honored urban format to a modern audience in such a close-in location between downtown and the park!
At Cáceres, the land plan borrows from all that inspired us. The large oval central park ringed by pleached blueberry trees, the major fountain in that oval park, and front doors entering homes off of smaller pocket parks all lent themselves to a continental feel. We also wanted to emphasize peace of mind and the fact that the community would be walled and gated and attended around the clock.