Home Is More Than A Place, Home Is A Feeling…

“Ruins are ideal:  the perceiver’s attitudes count so heavily that one is tempted to say ruins are a way of seeing.  Of course they actually exist, but since the eighteenth century they are never just problems of maintenance.  Rather, practically any human thing slipping into dereliction, the forecast of ruin, engages our feelings about where we see ourselves in history, early or late, and (in poignant cases) our feelings about how the world will end.”  (Robert Harbison, The Built, the Unbuilt and the Unbuildable)

Home. Home is where today’s story begins! Each of us has a different conception or impression of the word Home. And those conceptions or impressions are valid! They have been validated by experience mostly. For many living today, Home means love, hope, dreams, memories, friends, laughter…the list just goes on and on. For those of you studying Architecture, Home may be conceived as bricks, beams, building materials, and engineering. And for those of you studying the Social Sciences, Home may be where you have second chances, have the opportunity for making mistakes in a safe environment, a place for smiles and hugs, and a safe haven from life’s daily challenges. Our story today is about Home where hopes and dreams are made, fashioned, created, experienced, and a place to go back to on a regular basis.

For Anton Garcia-April and Debora Mesa, Principals in the firm Ensamble Studio, Home presented itself with the possibility of “doing together best of all”…and this particular story of Anton and Debora’s Home journey where they confronted the need to leave home and yet wanting to get back to it within the same breath! With their architecture firm succeeding within the global arena, Anton and Debora cast their eyes around them to formulate their next journey. At this stage in their lives, they both realized the best journey takes them or leads them back Home. Anton noticed curious advertising about an abandoned stone quarry on the Menorca Island, part of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea governed by Spain. The abandoned stone quarry, called Ca’n Terra (which translates into House of the Earth), enabled Anton and Debora to implement their insightful manifesto: “We think with their hands, we experience”; “We dream spaces and design their construction…aiming to excite places and people”; “And above all, we do.” Ensamble Studio adapted nearly 18,000 square feet of excavated stone rooms and spaces into a Home. Their collective effort is transforming an abandoned workspace which had been abandoned into a place, a Home, that will “improve the quality of life in and around them.” (www.ensamble.info)

What are your thoughts on HOME? What does HOME mean to you? And what are your thoughts as you take some time now to examine Ca’n Terra and reconsider HOME?

Anton Garcia-April and Debora Mesa, Principals of Ensamble Studio

Long View of Ca’n Terra, Menorca Island, Spain

Ca’N Terra, Interior View
Ca’N Terra, Interior View with Pool
Ca’N Terra, Interior (probably the iconic image now…tree of life growing inside an abandoned stone quarry!)

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

20 Comments

20 thoughts on “Home Is More Than A Place, Home Is A Feeling…”

  1. I like to use the old adage of “the home is where the heart is,” because to me the concept of home goes beyond place. Home is more of a feeling than a physical reality, although physical objects can add to or reinforce our idea or feeling of what home is. I know that every time I move, once I set up my bed and sleep in it in the new space I feel like that is where I belong. Home could also be applied to a sense of familiarity or predictability in one’s surroundings, creating a safe and reassuring environment to exist within, and this is usually fostered by surrounding oneself with other people that care about them. Right now “home means Nevada” to me, but that may change in the future. I will always feel at home if I know I can reach out to people that I love and that love me.

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  2. There is a clear difference between House and Home. As you well indicate, an architect conceives Casa as a set of materials, forces, and representations, but at same time conceives Home as a space, as habits of life, and as a factory of memories. Including feelings in the equation of what a home should be is a great starting point, in fact, feelings are the basis of perception and with what to start working on for that great experience that day to day can be. But what if Home is not a place, what if we can extrapolate it to something else?
    Let’s try to go one step further and imagine that home does not have a location, it does not have an address, it is not so strange to think about it if we imagine certain ways of life as itinerant artists and of course the nomads that still exist in Mongolia. Let’s define home, the nucleus of the home, as the people that go with you. “My home is you”, the poet would say. Home can be your partner, your children, and thus it is explained that a home can be created wherever a family, a couple, goes (or alone anyway!). The place is inconsequential.
    Thus we can explain that the home that Ensamble Studio has created, carved out of a quarry, can be warm and comfortable. For example, the experience created in the space of the tree photo seems to me simply great, a place of relaxation, of spirituality I would even say, open to nature but at the same time safe from the madding crowd.
    Lastly, I would like to point out Anton Garcia-April and Debora Mesa have not invented gunpowder creating a home in a mountain, but if they have redefined it to these times, they have given a new version of the concept “house on a cave”, with the current conception of space and interaction with it (again “the tree room”). Let’s look at The Cave Houses of Cappadocia (Turkey) and Granada’s Sacromonte Cave Houses (Spain), where in fact, I have lived for a while, and contrast them with the Ensamble Studio space, it is amazing how the same concept, basic, primitive, is so vastly different and redefined. This makes us see that the concept of Home continues and continues to evolve.

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  3. Home to me is something that connects to me to where I can enjoy life whenever I am staying at home for a long period of time or coming back to it after being away for a long duration. I have always believed that a home is a place where you can feel relaxed and have no worries. As for my thoughts on the term “home”, I also believe you can call anything you want a home as long as you believe it provides you the things you love and feel comfortable with no matter what. Obviously, the term home can be looked at from different points of view, and that is why it is so amazing. What I think about the quarry named Ca’n Terra is something I have never seen before and think is unique and extraordinary since it is in a cave, and even though it is in a cave the interior still passes off as a home. I also find the translation of Ca’n Terra interesting because maybe that was a calling for Anton and Debora to use their excellent skills to create what they have created inside this quarry. Overall, if you find somewhere whether it is big or small, poor or luxurious if you find that you truly love that place and that is what I believe you can then call it home.

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  4. Defining home is a very difficult question. But if I had to answer honestly, I would say that I feel both sides of the argument. If I were to move somewhere completely random with my family, the presences of my family would create the feeling of home. But, the home that I am at right now, and all of the sights around it also make me feel at home. Even if I am at the mall with my family, the presence of my family does not make the mall feel like my home. It’s when I return home that I feel at home. My room, my siblings in the room next to me, the kitchen, my backyard, these all create the feeling of home as well. But, even my home doesn’t quite feel like a perfect home when I am alone. When I am home, with my family, talking about whatever or spending time together, or even just knowing they are here is what comes together to make a home feel perfect. It’s a complex question, with a complex answer. As for what Anton and Debora are doing, it is nice that they are taking what was once abandoned and creating a nice space out of it. Breathing life into something that was metaphorically dead. Making the places livable will most likely make the person living there happier, but unless they truly have no family, then simply making the place feel homey and look nice won’t be enough to create the feeling of home.

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  5. Lizbeth Ramirez | Art 434

    I think it’s amazing how they took an abandoned space and made it into their place. It reminds me how Home is what you make of it. For me, Home is an environment that brings me peace and comfort. I don’t want to limit it to a specific place because there are so many places and people who help provide that feeling for me. So I can agree that home is more than a place because it is a feeling, a feeling of comfort and peace.

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  6. To me, home is synonymous to anywhere that you feel 100% comfortable in to be yourself, find solace and, like mentioned, make mistakes without fear. I wouldn’t categorize home as a place but rather a feeling. I think that it’s more so the feeling of unconditional love and belonging that makes a home, and the attachment we might feel to a physical home is a product that results from those feelings.

    For example, I feel at home in my current physical home because this is a place where I’ve had many experiences – good and bad – surrounded by friends and family that I love. I look at my kitchen and I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, birthday parties, and meals that I’ve spent with my family and friends at the table. I look at my bedroom and think about how my friends and I have grown up within the 4 walls of it over the years of sleepovers and hanging out on my bedroom floor after school. All of these feelings, experiences, and memories I have come together to give me the sense of ‘home’, it’s not just the physical space but the memories and experiences tied to them.

    Another example could be from our powerpoint, and how it mentioned that Garcia-Abril, Mesa, and their team all worked together to make the Ca’n Terra into their home by bulldozing out rubble, demolishing walls, and adding things like lounge cushions and a bed. I think that the act of them willingly doing all of this together in order to complete a project that they were all passionate about is the definition of home. Here, we see partners and friends who all want to see this project come to fruition. It’s a fond memory of collaboration and companionship that will probably stay with them forever and most likely strengthened their bond with one another, and I think that’s what really makes the space a home – because it’s quite literally made up of them, their work, and their collaboration.

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  7. Home to me has always been a safe space where I can be myself. After a long day of school and work, I don’t feel any obligation to act differently than how I usually like. However, since the pandemic, home has felt more as a cubicle I am not allowed to leave having me feel rather trapped and bored sometimes. For Ca’N Terra, this Home feels like a safe space for humans and nature to coexist in harmony. You are surrounded by rock but can still be cozy in it. The Tree of Life there really emphasizes this message as not only is it another being living in the Home with humans, but is also part of the Home itself. Ca’N Terra seems like a gift to nature as humans have relied on nature for shelter (i.e. caves or sacrificing trees for their wood), so this is a way to give back. The architecture is very welcoming and seems to belong to everyone and everything.

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  8. This HOME project from Anton and Debora is very interesting to take in an organic element of abandoned places and create it into someone people can come to. These open spaces are really breath taking to look at and I wouldn’t have imagined it to be that big when taking a look at the pictures posted below. It seems very welcoming to know that people can come and rest in such a natural environment one wouldn’t think it to be possible but is. As long as the space requires it and it doesn’t give off any stressful vibes.
    My thoughts on HOME is definitely a safe haven one can come to and feel welcomed at all costs which everyone is deserving of. A place of stress relief and smiles and relaxation than a place full of misery, stress, or a toxic environment that’s harming to both mental and physical health.
    I can definitely consider Ca’N Terra to be a Home with the attributes added that give it that sense of being safe and enjoy the area. I am a sucker for anything aesthetically pleasing with scenery and the environment or places such as caves. It’s always relaxing to look at and this place can definitely pull it off for others to enjoy. To sit back and admire the view is what I’d definitely do if I ever visited this place.

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  9. The idea of Home may have different or similar meanings to different people. Home for me is an idea as mush as a function. They may coincide together and may exists separately, but it will always have meaning in each respective minds.

    For me, Home starts out at an early age. It exists in function as in a place to learn, play, eat, sleep, etc. It becomes a place of refugee from the outside world. Somewhere things may come together to find answers to preplan for the next part of life. After moving away from my first home the home of my parents, Home became the idea of what used to be and what I wanted it to be. During the time Home was simply an idea, Home was non-existing in any other form than for refugee as a shelter. Slowly home became the idea I once remember having but more importantly an improvement of what I always desired.

    The Ca’N Terra is one iteration of what Home can be. It offers a space for function and a space where ideas maybe realized. The way this Home cuts into the earth gives it a more archaic feel but I do commend the use and rejuvenation of the ruin. This is not my interpretation of Home; however, it does present a useful space for work and a space that will offer inspiration. The open volume provides a blank canvas of imagination.

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  10. Home is an interesting concept. I can “feel” at home in many places and with many people, it is something that is familiar and makes me feel safe. My hometown is in Tucson, Arizona, but it no longer is my home. Or at least doesn’t feel like home. I really find home in people more than in places sometimes. In talking about the Ca’N Terra, I think that this is a very bizarre project. I understand their reasoning, with it harkening back to our “primal” ways and not disturbing the environment, but ultimately who is this project serving? The abandoned quarry became home to many animals and natural flora, all which lost their homes in the interest of creating a new one for these rich architects or someone they will sell this property to. I admire their desire to “dream” and “excite places and people” but I don’t see how someone in a wheelchair could navigate the uneven terrain. Accessibility to this “home” is for the privileged and few.

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  11. Home to me is a feeling of security and love from others. It is difficult to feel at home in an environment that does not feel safe or rejects us. But most importantly home is somewhere where you have people to support and be around you. It was not until recent years that I realized the importance of having someone with who you can trust and feel safe. For years I used to believe that I would be stronger if I could do everything on my own without needing or wanting others to help. Until a met a group of people in college who showed me how people can bring a feeling of “home” and security. The Ca’N Terra is an interesting project that challenges the idea of a home. To me, it represents a home through the safety and security of the project itself. The open spaces of caves and abandoned buildings bring the sense of comfort that most associate with their ideal version of a home.

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  12. Having to move multiple cities, home has been a quite difficult concept for me. However, I believe home is where your heart mainly belongs. Yes, I had multiple houses while moving around the state, but I only have one place I would call it a home. As for stated above, “where your heart belongs” calls for validation for love, hope, dreams, and etc. Therefore, I believe that Ca’n Terra’s concept of home is similar in context in that how they noted, “we DREAM spaces and design their construction.” Like the abandoned stone quarry, a home may not be as ideal as we think but reconstructing and putting dream into a place has the potential to create a home for other people. As looking at the pictures of Ca’N Terra, I can feel new birth and growth, giving warmth within the interior and the outer space, which I cannot say it lacks in any way with other concept of home.

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  13. Home to me is the place where I feel safe and comfortable to make mistakes, a place for smiles and hugs, and a safe haven from life’s daily challenges, as mentioned in the text. It’s where I would rest and relax after a rough day, without feeling unease by my actions, and where I would show my true colors without hesitation. In short words, home is where I belong.
    It is interesting what Anton and Debora made with Ca’N Terra. I bet that space seemed hostile until they put a touch on it. For example, the pic of the interior view, it almost looks like a cozy contemporaneous model of a living room. It would definitely become a home if someone wants to. A very exotic one.

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  14. I think that home as explored by Anton Garcia-April and Debora Mesa’s piece is a creative way of finding a space in which one feels comfortable, yet all aspects of that space are unique to one’s taste. Home to me means a place where I feel safe and protected, a place where I have the opportunity to unwind and spend time to myself to escape from the stress the outside may bring. In a time where we stay home as much as possible, it is important that your home caters to your needs, especially in an emotional sense since it has such a huge impact on your mood and well-being; the more comfort and peace you feel, the more positive the experience you will have in your home. For this reason, I find that Ca’n Terra is a great example of taking a space that may not have been as welcoming to Anton Garcia-April and Debora Mesa, for instance, and changing it into a place where the artists’ emotional investment into building the area with their own hands pays off, creating an other-worldly, peaceful space for them to call home.

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  15. There is a certain resonance that an individual can have when thinking about their homes. For many, this will be a place of comfort, relaxation and an environment that is welcoming. As an Architecture student, we can define a space and call it a house, which will inherently turn into a home. What is the subtle difference or notion between the two? I would say that a house is a developed spaced that has gone through spatial planning and iteration. A home on the other hand isn’t as physical, but rather interactions and connections. Individuals can make a space home through personal touches that enhance and make their day to day living intuitive. The “moments” in these spaces can only be assumed by the designer, but it’s never guaranteed. I think the user and individuals whom will occupy the space on a daily basis, will be the main factor at bridging a house and their idea of a home. Ca’n Terra is a great exploration of repurposing a once abandoned site, bare and natural. It strikes a balance between modern practices while respecting the natural course of the elements. The project speaks to their design principles of pushing boundaries and being an “explosive mixture of imagination and reality.”

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  16. For me, home is the accumulation of my favorite daily experiences, whether it’s seeing my family and friends, or climbing into my bed and turning on my heating blanket. Home is being able to be at ease and be comfortable enough to fall asleep in. When I first read about the Ca’n Terra, I couldn’t imagine how they could call the caves home. Although the Ca’n Terra looked like a place I would want to visit during a vacation, for a home it felt cold and unnatural. I thought about it more, and I realized that maybe for them, Home was an experience they enjoyed but amplified. I thought about how people who enjoyed silence and being close to nature would love Home, and how comforting it is to go back to the same route to visit the tree of life. In its own unique way, I’d say that the Ca’n Terra is a Home of comforts that we can’t get in a city or a crowded area.

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  17. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. It may sound incredibly cliche, but it’s true in a way. Home is where you feel welcomed, comfortable and loved. The location itself doesn’t really make the home, it’s the people or pets that you surround yourself with. I moved from the Philippines when I was eleven years old, and left the comfort of my childhood home. However, moving here still gave me a sense of home because I was with my family. And once I got accustomed to the culture and language, it was easier to be comfortable and call this city my home.
    Anton and Debora’s home is innovative in such a unique way. I have never really seen anyone renovate the rocky structure of an abandoned stone quarry into a warm and inviting place. However, after seeing the photos that accompany the blog, it’s clear that they’ve settled into that place and made it their own. It seems like they enjoy each other’s company and that’s why they were able to go anywhere and make it a home. It may take time to get accustomed to the lack of electricity and household appliances, but it still looks like an enticing place to live.

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  18. A Home does not just mean House. A House is something that protects you from the harsh weather and environment. It provides a roof over your head and provides protection from the weather. Home is where you can open yourself completely and be you for who you are. Home is where you are wholly accepted for who you are as a person entirely. For me, home is somewhere that I am 100% comfortable being my absolute self in. A lot of people tend to see their rooms as their true Home, and to a degree I can see myself being in the same boat. But I would also like to add that some people can feel like Home for me. People that create a sense of Home for me are ones that accept me for who I am as a person and receive me with all my flaws with open arms. Home is and will always be there for me no matter what happens in life. Home is somewhere that you can relax and be able to be honest with yourself. Looking at Ca’N Terra, I do believe that Home can be made anywhere you want. With the hardwork and energy Anton and Debora poured into their Home, as well as the effort and labor provided from their friends and family, I believe that this is as much as a Home as everyone else’s is. Home isn’t just a physical space, it’s something that gives us a sense of safety and comfort.

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  19. What we consider home is a major factor in all of our lives. Aside from the actual physical space of a home, it can mean something completely different from one person to another making it a truly unique place for someone. Personally, home to me is somewhere I feel safe and welcome, somewhere I feel comfortable to express myself and relax. It definitely feels weird when you go somewhere away from home such as on vacation and can take some time getting used to it. I think the Ca’N Terra is an amazing project that captures the concept of home being unique for everyone. Some people might not ever consider an abandoned stone quarry for a home, but Anton and Debora were able to renovate it to a place they can call home and that is the most important part. It looks amazing and while it may not fit the needs of everyone, it fits theirs and there’s no reasonable reason to not consider it a home. Home is definitely where you want it to be, and can be somewhere that you build it to.

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  20. In my personal opinion, HOME is where I chose to make it. I have been moved around a lot when I was younger, I have lived in California, Pennsylvania, Chicago, and now finally Las Vegas. A building doesn’t mean that I am home, when I think of home, I think of my mom and my younger siblings. How every time I go back to my house they are all there waiting for me with open arms and warm hugs to welcome me back. But now that I am older, I will soon be leaving and going off on my own. So when that does happen, home is going to mean something different. But home is what I chose to make it. I love how Ca’N Terra is making a home from something old and wonderful. It takes a lot of work but as long as they are happy I think that’s all that matters! It is really cool how they are making this old site and home for them.

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