The first contact we had with the couple, who were seeking to convert their old flat in the Eixample district into their new home, was through a descriptive dossier that they had prepared. On the cover was a family photograph: the two of them and their two children riding bikes. Although they enjoyed outdoor sports and ventured into the countryside on the weekends, what they wanted was an urban refuge. Until then, they had lived in a small flat with two large terraces, which was why they wanted to trade the urban exteriors for additional space inside.
With this information in mind, we paid the home an initial visit. The flat is located on the fifth storey of one of Barcelona’s typical Eixample-style buildings. It was not, however, from the turn of the 20th century like those on the lower floors, as it had been built at a later time. After consulting the archives, we concluded that the flat was indeed an addition and that it was built in the 1960s. Its structural configuration was therefore different to that of the neighbouring properties. Concrete beams were used to support the floors, instead of wood beams with filler blocks. The voids in the main façades were wider and larger than those of the rest of the building, and most of the interior partitions were non-structural. As a result, we decided to approach this project with a more contemporary architectural language than in other projects we had previously carried out in Barcelona’s Eixample district.
Some of the salient features of the original dwelling that we took into account from the outset were its generous size, brightness and dual orientation. With a surface area of 150 m2, there was ample room in which to place the required functional layout: three double bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a large kitchen-dining area and a living room with an additional study area. The dual southeast-northeast orientation made it easy to divide the home into two separate areas: the area with the greatest amount of sunlight for communal purposes, and another for more private purposes. In the central strip we placed the children’s bathroom, the laundry room and a third dual access bedroom that could be turned into two independent rooms if necessary in the future. All of these spaces were clearly delimited by the strategic placement of a series of prismatic volumes for storing small items. These volumes were finished with turquoise lacquer to visually enhance their function as spatial organisers.
The use of this colour in various elements throughout the home highlights the fluency of the spaces from the same unit. In the kitchen and living room, turquoise lends colour to the wall mounted cabinets and open shelving. In the bathrooms, the exterior paint transforms into turquoise tiles inside.
The wood and grey tile flooring provides a neutral canvas-like backdrop atop which to place these items of colour. Along these lines, none of the central volumes reach the ceiling, causing them stand out as independent pieces in a neutral, unitary context. For the rest of the surfaces and furnishings, neutral shades were chosen, except in the case of small or complementary items, which break from the colour scheme with their terracotta and mustard colours.
With this comprehensive refurbishment, we helped lay the foundations for the family’s new urban refuge and gave a contemporary touch to a home that can be easily redistributed to adapt to the owners’ changing needs.