Jardin al Andalus and Chris Williamson Architect: Winner of World Design Awards 2023. El Jardin al Andalus is a new concept in eco-tourism – a boutique rural property which provides a bespoke Andalusian experience. Positioned on a spectacular hilltop with panoramic views of stunning countryside, dotted with olive and almond trees, it is built adjacent to protected land, a stone’s throw from the beautiful Montes de Malaga with its unique wildlife, flora and fauna.
This location makes el Jardin al Andalus an ideal site for relaxing and enjoying the beauty of nature: walking, bird-watching, nature photography, as well as an introduction to the local industries such as beekeeping, wine appreciation, olive-oil production, and other Andalusia delights such as local cuisine, flamenco dancing and musicianship celebrating this unique region – all taught on-site by local experts. There are also courses on Mediterranean gardening as well as tennis coaching and opportunities for cycling, horse-riding and swimming.
The School of Nature is set on top of 20 acres of glorious folding hillside which stretches down on three sides to streams and riverbeds. Adjacent is the unique Persian Garden from which the property takes its name which incorporates the essential ingredients of the first gardens ever created on earth: water, shade and sustenance from citrus fruits, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The spectacular garden is edged by myrtle and laced through with gentle rills of running water. We are proud that all running water is sourced from our own well water and re-circulated for irrigation.
Hundreds of almond and olive trees dot the landscape, in valleys of wildflowers and shrubs, providing food for the local bees making the famous Colmenar honey. The town also supports several thriving goat farms which make its famous cheese, and the bells goats grazing in the rolling landscape floats throughout the valley
On the east side are five bedrooms, each with a marble-tiled bathroom. The interiors are modern with Spanish oak floors. The bedrooms open out onto private and discreet east-facing breakfast terraces. Each bedroom is provided with Spanish linen, towels and local toiletries made from essences based on the local olive oil and honey industries. There is satellite TV and WiFi in all the rooms. On the west a large open-plan space has the kitchen, dining and relaxation spaces. These open onto a large terrace and heated swimming pool where you can enjoy the sunset. Visitors can stand in the swimming pool and watch the tennis matches on the court below.
The building is designed to be self-sufficient and contribute to sustainability of our fragile planet. It avoids carbon-heavy air conditioning and uses naturally ventilating breezes throughout. There is a wood burning stove for heating inside and a fire pit outside where guests can relax. It is entirely solar powered – 100m2 of solar panels mounted on the roof generate electricity and heat the swimming pool – ensuring crucially important low energy consumption. All rainwater is filtered and recycled throughout the property which is modern and luxurious but with an innate connection to a wonderful and simpler way of life.
Chris Williamson Architect
Jardin al Andalus
World Design Awards Category
Sustainable Building Built
Colmenar near Malaga
Chris Williamson. RIBA RTPI
Chris founded Weston Williamson in 1985 with Andrew Weston through a shared interest in sustainability and urban regeneration. He has guided the studios’ growth to 250 architects and urban designers, with studios in London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne, Riyadh and Toronto, through a passion for safe, efficient, sustainable public transport that attracts people out of their cars. Chris qualified as a Project Manager with an MSc in 1985 and qualified as an Urban Designer with an MA in 1995.
Chris has written and lectured extensively about the way new technologies will affect our cities through the way we travel within and between them. Chris is a Visiting Professor at East London University and teaches at London School of Architecture. Chris sits on the Southwark Design Review Panel, is a member of the City of London Conservation Area Advisory Committee and is a member of the NLA’s Expert Panel on Transport.
Chris won the 2022 Architect of the Year Award from The Architecture Community for the conversion of a 1936 Methodist Church in his home town of Ilkeston in Derbyshire to a community arts centre www.ILKONarts.com
Chris was recently Vice President at the RIBA responsible for International liaison building relationships with other architectural institutes around the world. Chris is part of the Court of the Company of Architects – one of the City of London’s Livery Companies- with a focus on education and mentoring of students and young architects.