Connecting luxury and nature

The Casas Bioclimaticas are in the ITER technological park (which opened on 16th September 1990), where they educate and promote the use of renewable energies. The houses were first opened to professionals in 2011, but they are now open to anyone who wants to learn more about renewable energy.

This development is wholly self-sufficient and has zero CO2 emissions and, although I might be exaggerating a little (but with good reason), this is why these types of houses in southern Tenerife are the Earth's future.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

These features are the reason why the Casas Bioclimaticas ITER in Tenerife are a one-of-a-kind project not found anywhere else in the world. Many bioclimatic techniques are tested on site and the project is run entirely with renewable energy resources.

Origin of the Casas Bioclimaticas ITER

The Casas Bioclimaticas – ITER project began due to Ricardo Melchior's concerns regarding renewable energy. Houses in the Canary Islands were built in masse without any consideration for their environmental impact – which in turn led to a serious impact on the island.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

The project started with the goal of increasing awareness about constructing homes in an efficient manner (i.e. for both usability and comfort), to save energy in domestic areas and to guarantee stable supplies of desalinated water.

People who wanted to build their homes in Tenerife were inspired by the project's mission. This led to more sustainable housing on the island, all implementing their own solutions unique to each area of the island. These solutions varied from the direction and positioning of the houses to considering the elements (i.e. the wind, the sea, the course of the sun and temperature). These individual solutions helped make the project succeed.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

There are approximately 50 microclimates in Tenerife. Due to the difference in climate conditions, a house built in one area is not guaranteed to be suited to any other part of the island – or in fact the world.

The houses at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER

The Casas Bioclimaticas – ITER held a competition in which 397 projects from 38 countries were presented, all proposing to integrate renewable energy in architecture. In the end 25 were chosen and, of the 4 winners, the best was given the opportunity to build the visitors’ centre. The other 24 houses in the development have a total capacity of 120 people.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

Due to the lack of public interest in building non-standard housing, there were initially some complications for the project. The benefit of the housing proposed by the project was, at the time, unknown, and each house was built by a different foreign architect – which led to communication issues.

There is more than meets the eye to every bioclimatic house. Each one has its own peculiar architectural features, is decorated with designer furniture (such as sofas by ByB Italia, or a light from Flos, etc.) and has sustainable technologies. Without exception, they are all high maintenance and require constant special care.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

All of the houses at Casas Bioclimaticas have sensors which indicate what happens inside the house. For example, these sensors allow you to see when a TV is turned on and monitor the 'comfort factors' such as temperature, relative humidity and wind speed.

More and more people return to the development to try new houses and discover other individual options, while others prefer to stay in the same house every year. In order to help you get a better idea of what you are going to find at the project, here is a small summary of each of the 24 houses that are available.

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The most famous and photogenic houses at Casas Bioclimaticas are: La Geoda (max. capacity: 7); La Geria and El Gavión (max. capacity: 6); and El Río, El Muro, El Dispositivo, El Alisio and La Arcilla (max. capacity: 4). However, El Alisio and La Arcilla are not recommended if you are visiting with children.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

The walls of the houses are made with a gabion-style metal framework (which is a metal container full of stones) using basalt volcanic rock.

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The houses with the largest following, mainly because of their functionality, are: La Duna, el Bernegal and Bernouilli (max. capacity: 6); Las Bóvedas, El Patio and La Religa (max. capacity: 5); and La Compacta and El Pueblo (max. capacity: 4).

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Tenerife Travel Secret

The La Duna house is the only project at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER that was designed by a local architect. Its shape is not indulgent design; the first thing the architect calculated was the most efficient angle of the plot and then he designed the outline. Sunlight does not enter the house in the summer, but it does in the winter when it is lower in the sky. Per photovoltaic metre, it is the most efficient house in the development.

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The most discreet, private houses at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER are: La Estrella, El Caminito and La Tea (max. capacity: 6); Noche y Día (max. capacity: 5); and El Escudo, El Cangrejo, El Cubo and La Vela (max. capacity: 4).

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Tenerife Travel Secret

The El Escudo house is an excellent example of the combination of standardisation and reduced costs.

Our experience of the El Muro house at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER

When you get to the house, you are given a few sheets with a questionnaire, a small map of the eight important places in the area and other recommendations which you should read so you don’t feel lost. Nothing was standardised during the project's conception, which is the normal approach to building a development, because each house is special and unique.

Tenerife Travel Secret

Among other details, in the El Muro house there is a custom-made frying pan with special dimensions which was bought because the induction hob is a bit bigger than normal.

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In order to try out the house a bit (and to see if we could find any faults 😊), we bought food to cook in the kitchen (it didn’t happen to us, but they told us we had to read the instructions for the induction hob – which are stuck to the wall – because it can get blocked), we showered at different times throughout our stay, etc., but everything went off without a hitch. We loved how the house's day and night areas were separated by a stone wall. The house itself blends in with the surrounding landscape and the living room, with its large windows overlooking the terrace, were particularly special – most of all when the sun set.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

There was a lizard on the wall 😊 Small animals live all over the development, and lizards are indigenous to the area. They aren't viewed as pests because they eat the smaller, peskier animals.

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The South Airport is close to the developments, so airplanes often pass overhead. However, we were able to sleep without any problems. You can hear them from the terrace, but they aren't a nuisance.

Tenerife Travel Secret

At the time of making your reservation, you will be assigned a ‘surprise house’. If you want to stay in a specific house, you must ask for it and pay an extra €25 per day.

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More things to do at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER

The visitors' centre at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER has a 200-seat auditorium and different multi-use areas. There is also a guided tour of the houses every Thursday at 9:30am. The walking tour, which you can also do on your own, takes you through the visitors’ centre, where you can satisfy your curiosity and learn about bioclimatic architecture, the project and its multiple applications.

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The guided tour is reserved for guests of the houses (day visitors can still take part, but will need to book in advance). Guests often play a role on the tour, showing people around their house and telling visitors about their experiences.

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As the Casas Bioclimaticas – ITER are isolated in a coastal area in southern Tenerife, the houses have minimal services that mostly offer food. They are located in a 60,000m2 area which serves as a reserve for the region's indigenous plant life, among other things.

Tenerife Travel Secret

There are many different options for food, ranging from a food shop that sells local produce to a chef who will come to the house and cook for you. You can, of course, buy and cook your own food if you so wish.

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A few minutes’ walk away from the development you will find various kinds of beaches. Some are covered in stones that have accumulated there thanks to the water's current, and others have very fine black sand and are for the most part very quiet.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

The port of Granadilla is just next door and we loved writing an article about our time there. That, however, is a separate article 😊

Getting there

You can get to Casa Bioclimaticas ITER from South Airport by taking the motorway towards Santa Cruz, and then turning off at Exit 51. Then, follow the signs for the development and, when you get to the industrial estate, stop at the barrier and provide the guard with your details to gain access.

Casas Bioclimáticas ITER - Polígono Industrial Granadilla, S/N. 38600 El Médano, Granadilla, Tenerife

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Final comments from the authors

Our time at Casas Bioclimaticas ITER was quite simply a unique experience. It is a priceless luxury to experience a house that is respectful of the environment in that way, in a location where you can get up in the morning and spend the day admiring the view of Pelada Mountain, or even relaxing on a secluded and deserted beach.

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You will experience a different kind of nature – which practically includes a private beach – almost as if you're on the moon, without the normal luxuries of a hotel resort. Casas Bioclimaticas ITER is the ideal place for people who want to escape to a secluded location and have total freedom to spend their holidays however they wish. It's like having your own holiday home full of secrets for you to discover.

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