Joya: arte + ecología is a non profit arts organisation based at Los Gázquez in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra María Los Vélez in the north of the Provincia de Almería, Andalucía. Los Gázquez was once five old farmhouses, a "cortijada," the Andalucían name for a farm. It is now converted into a single very beautiful space. On the one hand great homage and respect has been given in its restoration to the simple vernacular architecture of the building, and on the other hand a crisp eye for detail has been employed which makes the place seem stunningly modern.
Los Gázquez, the home of Joya: arte + ecología, is located off-the-grid, or independent of the electric, water, and waste networks that connect most modern homes and buildings. The building itself is designed to focus on sustainable living, using both passive and active systems of off-grid energy systems. The passive systems incorporated into the house include a grey water reclamation system, rainwater harvest channels, wood fuel collected from the surrounding land, and a reedbed waste cleaning system. The gray water system collects all the water from basins, showers, and the dishwasher and with the aid of eco-friendly detergents, transports the water through a series of channels to terraces for the irrigation of an orchard. The rainwater harvesting system collects water from the roof during summer weather events or winter snow and transports it via acequias, or canals, to the aljibe, an underground deposit. During one summer rainfall weather event, the system can collect up to 50,000 litres of water. The reedbed cleaning system consists of two alternating aerobic vertical flow reedbeds and one anaerobic horizontal flow bed. Bacteria is digested in the vertical flow reedbeds by Phragmites australis. In the horizontal bed, amoebas and other protozoans digest bacteria. At the end of the process, the water is 98% clean and can be used for irrigation. Heating, of both water and the house, is also achieved ecologically, via 24 vacuum tube hot water solar collectors as well as bio-mass wood boilers for underfloor central heating and the kitchen range. Los Gázquez is powered by a 48v system that employs both a 6 x 160 watt photo voltaic panel with a tracking system to follow the sun as well as a 3000 watt wind turbine at 12 meters high. The tandem active systems were chosen because of the specific weather conditions of the region. High winds and more than 3100 hours of sunlight/year allow the panel and turbine to power the entire building without any additional energy.