The Costa del Sol has an extremely diverse residential architectural style which is not surprising as there are over 2 million inhabitants to house, over the 161km of coastline from Manilva (far west) via Malaga, to Nerja in the east and extending inland to the mountains, and beyond.
Settlements here date back to the Bronze Age, and the area has since been inhabited by many cultures such as the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Moors, and more recently the world’s A-list celebs, criminals and the phenomenon which is Simon Cowell (and the X-factor finalists) and boasting a population increase of quarter of a million over the past ten years.
Although much of the immediate coast has been developed into luxury urbanisations and resorts incorporating many of the historical costal villages, it is nevertheless still possible to see signs of their charm. Many of these towns in the Costa del Sol became fortified and there are numerous instances where you can see the juxtaposition of great contemporary and classical architecture together. The most famous is probably the Roman fortress of Alcazaba dating from the 8th and 11th century, which lies in the heart of Malaga City, (the official capital of the Costa del Sol) which sits aside leading architects 20th century castellated or 'turretted' constructions of modern interpretation in the neighbouring touristic marina developments, for example in Benalmadena marina, the coast’s fastest increasing suburb, or in the other well-known coastal areas of Puerto Banus, Estepona and Nerja. Despite the mayhem of the recent planning indiscretions on this coastline and its reputation for purely a home away from home for many Brits and other ex-pats, it is therefore encouraging to find that local architects and developers are continuing to find inspiration in the true vernacular precedents resulting in very succesful examples of modern touristic residential architecture.
Conversely, in the whitewashed hillside towns of the Costa del Sol, such as Ojen, Mijas or Frigliana where historically much of the local fishing population used to commute from, the towns in the main stand as living and breathing monuments to the historical depth of the area. Hidden inland where the terrain is rugged, graduated and fertile there still remains an abundance of working fruit, vegetable and olive farms, and original farm workers fincas in existence which provide the bulk of the household's income for the local families. If you are lucky enough to reside in one of these communities, you will know how important it is to develop relationships with the local residents in order to receive the benefit of their knowledge and assistance. It is essential to ensure you treat your property with respect and abide by local development and planning laws which are set out to preserve the character of the town or village for the benefit of all. For the budding designer however, this may be too restrictive in comparison with the coastal guidelines but there is always the possibility to convert an ancient interior into an uninhibited and contemporary dwelling space hidden beneath an original shell. For this reason, and of course the reduced cost and wider availability of land, many ex-pats have chosen to live in the rural outskirts of these hilltop towns and construct their own modern homes from scratch or buy an existing modern property which are subject to a much more relaxed legislation. However living as neighbours to such towns rather than residents, it is much harder to absorb the local culture into your life and develop relations within the existing community.
The key to living comfortably on the Costa del Sol, more so than in other locations, is knowing that you have found the right architectural solution for you amongst such a wide choice. Whether you have bought your perfect property or if it’s being constructed for you, or even if you're renting here, the diversity which exists on the Costa del Sol is an opportunity not to be missed and can allow you to find the exact specification you require in terms of beach, mountains, town, terrain, views, property design, landscape and interiors.
So, be choosy, find what works for you because it will be here, it may just be a question of looking a little deeper.
Architectural foreward written by www.puddingcreative.com