Foto de la fachada Oeste

Maps and instructions

Letter number 57, from AK to GS, dated 22/5/1947, talks about sending several letters from Madrid on board the Guanchinerfe, as well as a drawing by building engineer Mr. Antonio Falcón, 3,000 curved tiles, 100 sacks of concrete and 27 packages with bathroom materials for the house, that had arrived on board the “Darro”. In addition, at the end of page 3, there is mention being made to the delivery of 8 cardboards, each with a drawing stuck to it, made by GW (May 1947) with instructions for Maestro Villalba:

Drawings 1a and 1b, dated 10/05/1947, with instructions about the tallest height of the terrace arches, which were higher in order to allow for a better view from the dining room, whereas the foyer arches faced south, and were supposed to be lower for better sun protection. There are also references made to the ceiling of the dining room, the office and the foyer.

1c: A drawing of the east wing, from the foyer, dated 16/05/1947, with instructions regarding the studio and the small dining room placed on that wing, both including a fireplace. Also, the attic and its connection to the 2nd floor of the tower, the bedrooms and the foyer on that wing.

1d: A drawing of the west wing, a view from the foyer, made on 17/05/1947, with instructions regarding the windows of the library, one facing the sea and the other one facing west. The library was connected to the terrace by means of a glass door and to the living room by means of a doorless arch. The latter was separated from the dining room by means of a sliding door. There are also instructions regarding other rooms on the west wing: the bathroom, the three bedrooms and the foyer, and the corresponding ceilings and windows.

This cardboard has drawings 2a and 2b, dated 10/05/1947, including the buildings or lateral wings, with instructions regarding the ceilings of the different rooms on both wings, the dividing walls, the load bearing walls and the arcades of both lateral buildings.

Drawing 2c, also dated 10/05/1947, with instructions for the small dining room and the attic on top, on the side of it.

Drawing 2d was made on 15/05/1947, and it shows the facade of the main building, from the inside, and the view from the swimming pool. It makes reference to the living room ceilings, the dining room, the office and the hall.

Drawing 2e, dated 18/05/1947, includes several changes to the south facade of the lateral buildings, having removed the foyer doors from the orchard –to provide them with more shade-, replacing them with alcoves.

Finally, drawing 3, dated 18/05/1947, with instructions for the swimming pool, the patio and the foyer. There is mention being made to changes on that south side with regard to what had been initially planned in 1942.

On letter number 62, from AK to GS, dated 07/06/1947, Mr. Arturo makes reference to several drawings being sent from Madrid, with the corresponding clarifying comments. We still have three of them: MI, 3a and MII, dated 25/05 and 01/06/1947. In addition, they also mention a shipment to Jandía of 50 sacks of concrete and how difficult it was to find the iron and tiles requested by Maestro Villalba. In this regard, there is a transcription of a telegram from Madrid in which GW demands “maestro to start working on the construction of the arcades without further delay, in order not to put off the construction of the arches, theceilings and the construction of the roof framework, fully postponing the building work on any of the secondary constructions.” Due to the lack of iron and solid tiles for the arcades, “stone blocks must be used with cement orreinforced concrete”.

Upon his return to Gran Canaria, Mr. Krozewski passed on Maestro Villalba’s order to make another mould to build concrete blocks with.

On drawing MI, dated 25/05/1947, there are instructions regarding the height and width of the different walls of the main structure, the arcades, the alcoves, windows, arches and ceilings of the living room, among others.

In the instructions attached to drawing 3a, dated 01/06/1947, there is a review of the different levels including rooms, foyer, hall, toilet, garden, main entrance, etc., and urging the perfect levelling of the land behind the house, the orchard and the tennis court, as well as giving instructions about the distribution of tasks, prioritising the completion of walls, arcades and the roof framework.

Drawing MII, also dated 01/06/1947, talks about the load bearing walls and there are instructions regarding the cross section walls of the bedrooms on both wings, some of them with spaces left for built-in wardrobes. It also specifies their width.

On 26/06/1947 Mr. Arturo sent two letters to Jandía: on letter number 67 he tells Mr. Guillermo that he received the photograph negatives and is forwarding them to Madrid. He also sent a copy of drawing 3b, signed by GW, dated 21/06/1947, with instructions for Maestro Villalba in relation to the rooms on the basement floor, which led to so many subsequent stories.

The basement is practically fully intended for storage and staff accommodation. When assessing the guidelines given by GW and plan3b attached –which coincides with the real and final layout of the rooms in the basement, as it currently is-, we can see that, contrary to what the stories about the mysterious basement tell, the truth is that the house, including the basement, seems to always aim for natural light and ventilation.

Let’s go through the different rooms on this floor:

– The main access door to the basement (P1), on the west wing, is a double door and it is “as broad as it can possible be in order to facilitate bringing in furniture and goods to be stored.”

– On the northern side there are two gaps with windows to keep the hall and corridors of the basement perfectly aired; there are two lateral storage areas (1a and 1b), with a single door and a central refrigerator chamber, “with two access doors in order to prevent heat from coming in.” It can be used to preserve goat’s cheese and other perishable goods, for instance. He warned about the need to avoid water from filtering from the terrace placed above, and also about the need to strengthen the arch so it can hold the weight of the tank.

–     On the other side of the corridor, on the southern side, (from west side to east side) there is a toilettwo staff bedrooms (1 and 2), a storage room (number 2) and the spot for the stairs and the kitchen. Access door P7 to this storage area 2 “must be as wide as the main door of the basement, P1, so barrels and other large items can fit in.” That storage area connects door P11 with a cavity wall or isolation chamber. The cavity wall is a traditional system used to avoid dampness, and it consist of having two layers or curtain walls divided by a ventilated space. This chamber, placed behind storage area 2, the two bedrooms and the bathroom, has a window that heads toward the west wing and allows for air to come in. The rear curtain wall is made of masonry and is in touch with the ground on an overflow area (the basement was excavated at the base of a mountain), however, masonry is absorbent and water leaks. This system allows for the habitable rooms (the two bedrooms) to be divided by this wall in contact with the ground by means of a ventilated chamber, and so avoiding dampness.

            To improve the light in the room the stairs lead to from the upper floor, and also where the lift is, he suggested for the door that connects the kitchen to be made fully with “glass so the light can come in.” In addition, he recommended that since bedroom 2 has no natural light, the top of its access door could be made of glass. In order to let the light in on bedroom 1, the partition wall that separates the bathroom and that bedroom must be made of glass, “and be the same height and size as the bathroom window leading to the west wing.”

–     The base of the tower is on the east side, aimed to be used as staff dining room, which can be accessed either from the kitchen or from the main corridor in the basement.

Letter number 68, from AK to GS, also dated 26/06/1947, includes a summary by Mr. Antonio Falcón of the “Full construction work done in the house of Cofete from the very beginning until 29/5/1947”. In addition, there is mention made to another drawing being sent, drawing MIII, dated 06/06/1947, with instructions regarding the height of the ceilings over the foyer, the construction of cross section walls among the different rooms of the main part, as well as the height of the linear load bearing walls. There is also specifications given regarding the shape of the windows on the west facade, which had to be made of carved stone.

On letter number 39, from GS to AK, dated 06/07/1947, Mr. Guillermo informs about having sent a series of photographs taken on 29/06 and on 05/07/1947, documenting the construction stages, a sketch with the measurements for the building engineer, as well as copies of the weekly wage lists.

On letter number 69, from AK to GS, dated 11/07/1947, Mr. Arturo mentions that he hasn’t managed to get the iron as requested by the Maestro. He also included drawing MIV a-c dated 06/07/47, where GW informs about several changes with regard to what had been previously stated: the tower shall have three floors, he explains how those floors must connect to the annexed rooms (the first floor connecting to the study and the second floor to the attic), how to access the third floor of the tower, as well as the number of windows in total and their features, including those placed on the basement. The roof of the tower was also altered, and replaced by a platform to hold a wind mill in order to generate electricity for the house (it was never installed). Only drawing MIV-b remains.

On letter number 199, dated 02/08/1947 to Mr. Guillermo, GW shows his concern after seeing a series of weekly photos, where he could observe the progressive construction of the foyer’s arcades. He’s concerned about safety, for the personnel during construction, as well as for the future inhabitants of the house. He’s got several worries in this regard: when it comes to the sturdiness of the foundation, regarding whether the walls the pillars lean on have enough lateral support and the possible risk for those pillars, should there be swimming pool water leaks. He urges them to find a solution to the possible safety issues by immediately building arches between the arcades and the load bearing walls of the main structures.

Two days later, after having received the photographs taken on 18/07/1947, GW realised that the solution he suggested in his previous letter was no longer viable: the foyer’s arcades, north of the swimming pool, are already higher and side arches cannot be placed as suggested. On letter number 200, to Mr. Guillermo, dated 04/08/1947, he suggested building an additional pillar for the arches as a possible solution, and in doing so, they wouldn’t have to touch the arcade.

Foto de las Arcadas
Arcades (sin datar)

On 04/08/1947, Mr. Guillermo wrote 4 letters to GW. This document includes two of them, numbers 186 and 187. He mentions sending the photos taken on 02/08/1947, and informs of the work carried out the previous week, consisting mainly of building a wall with no plaster and other works following the instructions received from Madrid. Reference is being made to the fact that the collapse of the arcades happened when the Maestro wasn’t in situ, and was marking the stretch of the road to be built instead. It was precisely on letter number 199, dated 02/08/1947, that GW had said, after seeing the photographs taken on 11/07/1947, that he was concerned about the safety of the arcades, and he then made a series of suggestions in order to find a solution.

Letter number 190, from GS to GW, includes plenty of references to the work done on the house. At that time, the work mainly focused on lifting the walls and arcades. There is also mention made to transport solutions to bring the necessary large quantities of wood to Cofete to build the roofs with. They even asked the captain of the Guanchinerfe. Mr. Miguel gave a straight answer: “It is practically impossible to bring the Guanchinerfe close to the shore north of Jandía”. (The delivery of wood was delayed by a year and a half, on the one hand due to the slowing down in construction from that date on, and on the other hand due to the fact that they decided to replace the wood they initially purchased, Pitch Pine type, for a more appropriate one. However, the tiles could be taken there easily carried by camels, although they couldn’t do more than two trips a day uphill. There is also a solution mentioned, suggested by Maestro, for the set of stairs from the basement to the office. There is a sketch attached for this suggestion. Finally, there is a report of the work carried out in the house during the month of July.

On letter 192, from GS to GW, dated 11/08/1947, Mr. Guillermo informs about the work done at the house that last week. Among the work done, there is the instructions to solve the issues with the arcades. He mentioned attaching more photo negatives, taken recently.