Skip to main content


Award category
Reconnecting with nature
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS RISING STARS: concepts or ideas submitted by young talents (aged 30 or less)
Project title
Full concept/idea title

UP THE HILL is an innovative social housing project placed in the rural environment of Beizama, Spain. It focuses on introducing a new paradigm of living and working outside the urban context, where an organic and symbiotic relation of the residents to the nature is cultivated. Following social and environmental strategies, as well as introducing sustainable building materials and techniques, this project aspires to initiate a metabolic ecosystem for social, cultural and ecological empowerment.

What is the geographical scope of your concept/idea?
Beizama, Basque Country
Does your concept/idea address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly rural
Does your concept/idea refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your concept/idea benefited from EU programmes and/or funds?
Has your concept/idea won an EU prize?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Word of mouth (colleagues, friends …)
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As an individual in partnership with other persons
Please provide a summary of your concept/ idea

The main aspect of our concept is the introduction of a new, ecological culture of living and the implementation of an innovative model of social housing, which combines multiple work-from-home scenarios in a direct relationship with the rural environment, in a way that contemporary needs are reintroduced in a dynamic and cyclical connection with nature.  It was of great importance to establish a mutual formation between the intervention and the landscape, so that the project essentially becomes part of the village of Beizama, standing in dialogue with the environment, both natural and built. We introduce a hybrid dwelling typology, which is derived from the local building type of the basseri and combines the typology of the single-family house with the multi-family house.

Reinventing living in the periphery means creating a generator of housing patterns that carries the potential to answer the question of how we can live together, while proposing a dynamic relationship between the inhabitant and the natural environment, which is not based on exploitation. Respecting the scale of the surroundings and the plot’s inclination, an interchange of private and common in-between spaces is set on different levels to allow strong interactions and introduce a socio-cultural dimension to the proposed ecosystem. To remedy the phenomenon of young people abandoning their locality in search of work opportunities, our proposal aspires to set up the conditions for productive activities to flourish, in order for Beizama to reinvent its character and, subsequently, enhance demographic diversity.

The challenging topographic parameters of the plot was a critical aspect of the proposal. Having this in mind, we tried to create a metabolic system where nature, living and working are in constant dialogue. The building shells, which emerge from the steeped hill, create the frame where the users can adapt their spaces and reestablish their interactions according to their evolving needs.

Please indicate the main themes of your concept/idea with 5 key words
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of environmental sustainability (including circularity) and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

Towards the achievement of a low-maintenance and energy efficient solution, we suggest the use of sustainable building materials that can be locally acquired. The building structure consists primarily of stabilized rammed earth, a technique used for the formation of the load bearing exterior walls, and oak wood, which comprises the interior skeleton supporting the floors and part of the pitched roof. The idea of rammed earth came forth as a solution for repurposing the large amount of on-site soil that will have to be excavated from the plot during the first stages of the construction. In addition, rows of mud bricks are placed horizontally on the exterior surfaces of the walls, in order to redirect water from the rammed earth surface and prolong the material's life. Rammed earth is also beneficial due to its inherent thermal insurance properties and its lack of maintenance needed, once the project is finished. Apart from these advantages, the choice of rammed earth supports the idea of the three volumes emerging out of the landscape, as they are actually formed by the same exact material.

The interior structure, namely the columns, beams, flooring and partitions are made of oak wood, a choice that makes sense in terms of both being locally produced and sustainable, when regulated lumbering is assured. The window frames are also made out of oak wood, as another solution would not comply with the natural character of the rammed earth. In addition, energy saving solutions such as a geothermal heating system are considered, as it appears that the region is suitable for such a practice to be developed. Solar panels on the roof could cover part of the need for electricity during the day-time hours on sunny days and a rainwater collection system could store sufficient amounts of gray water to be used for domestic needs and watering of plants, considering the fact that Beizama's rainfall rate is relatively high

Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

Acknowledging the unique rural character of the context, we decided early on during the design process that our proposal should integrate seamlessly to the surroundings but still follow a contemporary approach. Hence, we introduced an interpretation of the typology of the local farmhouse, the "basseri", as it proved to be a paradigm close to our model of intertwining living and working into the same unit. This approach is visibly reflected on the aesthetics and style of our proposal.

The core elements that we translated into our design were the thick load-bearing exterior walls, which result in a large solid-to-openings ratio on the facades, the wooden structure of beams and columns on the inside that bear the potentiality of an open plan configuration and the pitched roof. The innovative element of our proposal is focused on the new materiality that was chosen, namely the rammed earth. Using the very same soil that will be excavated as a building material, the three volumes placed into the steep hill appear as if emerging from their environment, strengthening the idea of an organic relation of man-made and natural. The aesthetic outcome can be described as monolithic yet embedded into the surroundings, where the natural earthy colors and flourishing vegetation prevail, offering a calm and peaceful feeling to the inhabitants.

Our goal was for the quality of the experience of the new residents to rise up to the breathtaking context. One of the most amazing benefits of living and working in a rural environment is the fruition of the outside. With that in mind, we introduced an interior balcony for every apartment, one that could take up numerous activities during the day. As a hybrid space, it allows the resident to both enjoy the outside and be protected by natural elements. Also, the openings are placed in such a manner that views of the landscape are a constant part of everyday life.

Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these would be met.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context

One basic topic that the proposal attempts to address is to what extent architecture can support the creation of a social ecosystem, in which residents and nature are key actors. In this direction inclusivity in terms of accessibility, connectivity, affordable-alternative and flexible design, as well as the emergence of the sense of “belonging” were crucial parameters of the proposal. Despite the limited number of people currently living in Beizama, we anticipate that the implementation of the social housing project will invite more inhabitants, such as young couples and families. In order to create more opportunities for the old and the newly arrived inhabitants to gather, engage in activities and socialize, we design a public strategy in which the proposal arises as a permeable and accessible field, able to host public activities from cultivations, cultural and educational events to production facilities and day-care public spaces. These additional programmatic values enrich the ecosystem of the project with a plurality that can activate a stronger, more profound coexistence in nature and a new culture of living.

Regarding the building typology, the outcome that we wanted to achieve through this was a proposal that can correspond to various life scenarios and be open to transformations. Although each house corresponds to the same spatial qualities and in-between spaces, each of them can be expressed and formed in various ways depending on the users’ preferences. This plurality of living and productive spaces in coexistence with nature brings to the site a new model of cohabitation and where the interior and exterior defuse the collective unfolds. To achieve a mutual growth with nature, it is proposed an alternative construction system and affordable materiality that has a low extractive footprint. It is a basic design direction to reuse and reassemble as much as possible the local existing materials such as the earth and wood

Please explain how these three dimensions would be combined in your concept/idea.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

 In approaching this particular topic, we tried to gain a fresh perspective, challenge the notion of ecology and the role of architecture, as well as introduce a new housing typology that can lead to a new architectural language.  We employ a spatial vocabulary that stands in dialogue with the vernacular architecture of Beizama, while taking under consideration parameters such as social engagement and participation, alternative materiality, sustainability and self-sufficient energy solutions, as well as the unique character of the context and the nature as equal actors. That is why we paid close attention to designing a solution that is subject to the building regulations, both national and local, and made an effort to conduct a step by step plan of the implementation procedure.

Furthermore, concerning the design itself, we proposed a composition that allows for a certain kind of flexibility and adaptability within each housing unit, by negotiating the border between each clearly defined space, thus offering the opportunity of the realization of different scenarios according to the residents’ needs. To that direction, the public spaces, both indoor and outdoor, are designed in such a way so that they can hold multiple uses and be further developed in collaboration with the actors involved ( nature and residents).

The residents are invited to take part in the design process, learn about the ecological aspects and newly introduced materiality, as well as to become aware of this new culture of living in coexistence with nature. These actions attempt to establish a micro-neighborhood feeling and enrich the proposal with sustainable strategies that respond also to economic, social and cultural empowerment in addition to enhancing building performance and environmental conditions. Our concept attempts to introduce an ecosystem that helps the community to find freedom through sharing and set up a dynamic, inclusive and ecological frame to function.

Please highlight the innovative character of the concept/idea as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the concept/idea.

Regarding the architectural approach, we tried to introduce a hybrid innovative residential type that establishes new parameters in the design process.  Instead of occupying the entire plot, we proposed a balance between solids and voids, i.e. the buildings and the exterior natural spaces they define, maintaining at the same time the natural topographic conditions of the place, where native plants and animals can dwell. As we are intervening in the countryside, we developed a multi-story typology without losing the most important idea of a single family house: the relationship with the exterior space. In this way, each house can be accessible directly from the outside space and has an exterior room, independent of his size, in order to reinforce this relationship. Inside each house, we also made clear in each building the distinction between the load-bearing structure and the partition walls, allowing for a wide range of different configurations that can be negotiated with the future inhabitants during the design process according to their personal wishes and desires.   

By being aware of the current crises that affect the transportation system as well as the metallurgical industry, we opt for local and sustainable materials like wood and rammed earth. Nevertheless, and as our common knowledge of these materials is always evolving, we don’t see them as a superimposed solution but as a basis for further development and research. We challenge the boundaries of the role of architecture in order to reveal the dynamic that bears to create not only desirable and adaptable spaces but also to introduce a natural and social ecosystem to embrace the complexity that surrounds us. Toward this direction, rural regions such as Beizama can launch a new production and living model in symbiosis with nature, and reinvent their character by emerging as satellites and alternative, contemporary solutions to the neighboring urban practices.


Please detail the general plans that you have for the further development, promotion and/or implementation of your concept/idea.

It is of great importance to us to further communicate our ideas and connect with audiences that share the same interest towards exploring innovative ways of living and working outside the urban context. For that reason, we designed a series of steps that would raise awareness and bring these issues into light. First of all, as a team, we plan on writing articles to be submitted in architectural journals that concentrate on the theme of the much needed today shift of our perspective towards our relation to nature. Getting in touch with groups, both inside and outside academic circles, that are already working towards that goal, is considered vital in order to bring our proposal and the ideas that it reflects into the discussion. Hopefully our contribution will fuel the dialogue around social housing needs, the new working/living paradigm and, above all, the fact that this initiative can and should find its place inside the natural environment without serving any exploitive intentions but rather, through achieving a fruitful and circular relation with the surrounding habitat. Furthermore, we are planning to present our work and concept to symposiums and roundtables that are often organized by neighborhood and/or citizens initiatives, so that our ideas will become public and accessible to people outside the architectural community. Last but not least, a series of workshops with the residents and everyone else interested will be conducted, in order to expand their knowledge on alternative building materials, techniques and the way that architectural decisions can improve the quality of their life.

Imagine that your idea/concept is awarded in the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022. What kind of initiatives would you take throughout the following year (June 2022- June 2023)

In case our idea is awarded the New European Bauhaus Prize 2022, we are planning to make use of the publicity that our project will gain in order to further promote our ideas and find ways to implement them. Our research will be focused in outlining the parameters that could render a rural environment suitable for introducing this kind of initiatives, taking under consideration terms such as the housing and working needs of the community, the connectivity to the surrounding areas, the existing building typologies, as well as the willingness of the habitants to engage in participatory design and building methods. Having these parameters in mind, our next step will be to search, uncover and map places around Europe, and especially in the south regions, where the current economic and environmental challenges demand innovative measures to relieve the pressure on urban contexts all the while creating opportunities to re-activate abandoned territories in the periphery. An interactive online map will be created and sufficiently promoted via social media and other communication venues, where citizens can contribute their ideas on how their habitat could take up innovative models of social housing and new patterns of living and working, either remote or not. By informing as many people as possible on how this approach could benefit their community and establish a newly found relation to their environment, one where nature is not considered alienated and exterior to the human experience but an intrinsic part of it, we aspire to create the conditions for the future implementation of projects that derive from our concepts and offer local solutions to problems of greater scale.

By ticking this box, you declare that you are not in in one or more of the exclusion situations foreseen under Article 136 of the Financial Regulation.
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that you assume sole liability in the event of a claim relating to the activities carried out in the framework of the contest, that the proposed concept/idea has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022 in any other category or strand and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.
By submitting your application, you guarantee that you are the author or have the rights to proceed with the application and to authorise the use of the project, concept, idea, and that you have obtained any necessary consents, licenses or assignments from third parties and included copyright notices when necessary.
By submitting your application, you understand that all the applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be shared for the purposes of the selection processes, and notably published on the secured platform and for the purposes of the promotion of these on the New European Bauhaus website and/or other European Commission communication channels. In this sense, the applications would be widely available. Applicants should ensure that they present their ideas, concepts, projects, in such a way that they could be shared without giving rise to intellectual property related concerns. If your submission is selected as one of the finalists, it will additionally be shared for the purpose of the public vote that will take place. The European Union is granted a licence to use and share your application with the general public and the official external experts for the purposes of the selection process, including the voting. The European Union has the right to use the images and visual materials and the description provided in the application for communication purposes related to the contest and beyond. Rights granted comprise the right to store, reproduce, display, publish and communicate or distribute copies in electronic or digital format, including, but not only, through the internet. Unless you have disclosed your name, the European Commission has no obligation to share your name when using or disseminating your contribution to the public. The European Union cannot be held responsible in case any submitted idea, project, concept is found to infringe third parties rights. The European Union shall be neither responsible for the use that third parties may do of the applications or related content.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for strand B.