“THE PROJECT Two couple friends entrusted us the design of their homes after we win a private a competition, restricted to four architecture teams, in 2009. The idea was simple: build two homes on a site between two buildings who had been acquired in the district of Sants, in Barcelona, and that had been object of previous projects already outdated due to the economic crisis. The design of this two family homes integrates all common spaces required by law (staircase, elevator, lobby, etc...) into spaces of actual use by the inhabitants of the house.
The idea of the staircase facade as a balcony arose almost naturally. It is a common staircase that creates small balconies and viewpoints that incorporate private lateral spaces for each dwelling. This staircase leads to the roof of the building and also to housing floor number 2. The elevator is positioned in a second plan, embedded between the two homes not to block the view to the street from the balconies at the facade. As a result, the design of each dwelling managed to get a clean rectangular form, without staircases or other “obscure” elements, achieving large areas with natural illumination and ventilation, between a quite narrow bay (just 5,50 meters).
The two houses are arranged in ascending and descending duplex to develop similar programs as much as possible. The ground and second floors contain the main housing programs while the first floor is halved lengthwise to accommodate the program rooms in houses with cross ventilation. The interior stairs are placed in superposition to save floor space. Harnessing the most of space as possible is also consistent with a strategy of economic savings throughout the project. All the components of the building have been chosen with a criterion of proximity and ease of execution. Nowadays, a treated wood lattice protects and adds warmth to this semi outdoor space that functions as an intermediate gallery, where already grow plants, bicycles and tricycles.
THE STORY On a positive note, is worth mentioning the large dose of patience and power of seduction that had to be used before the technical services of the government so they could license the building: - Staircase in front? No man, no! Why don't you do not do a staircase with lift and you free yourself of so many complications? - Is not that I look, is just that we are interested to do the configuration, see? We fulfill with the rules on the legislation! - Well, I don't know, the rules should be interpreted and we don't see it clear... - Look, is that we do not want to lose 40% of floor area, natural illumination and ventilation with a core of staircases that we will not use. - Listen young man, you can say whatever you want but your project is for a multifamily home and here we have never seen anything like it... Next!!
A whole year we were circling the damn rules until finally "eureka!", we got the permission. We thought it was due to the exhaustion of the government staff but, after all, is what we wanted and it cost us blood, sweat and tears.
While last the adventure with the technical services, we had a family of squatters living in their caravans on the site. The two girls decided to talk to them to convince that they should leave, since the police was unable to do anything: - Miss, is that if it has been passed 24h and we cannot throw them out and you know how these things are difficult... Finally, the two girls, one of them pregnant, spoke with the squatters and convinced them to leave the site the next day, without a word... The construction started in 2013 and through the efforts of a small village builder and his staff, the building took shape. Angel, the site manager, was bringing fresh eggs from their garden from time to time. When were no eggs, were asparagus. And, from egg to egg and from asparagus to asparagus, emerged in the structure, the interior and the facade...
The residents of the street were, at first, very suspicious of the building, so white, so different, but now they see it as a part of the landscape. It has not been painted since the work was completed.
The two houses, and especially the garden, are already an essential meeting point between the two couple friends that one day joined efforts to undertake such an enterprise.
When the project started we had to take into account the needs of 4 people. When they finished the work, in 2014, the families had increased and now their three children already enjoy the garden and the spaces of the grand staircase in front.” We attach the information regarding one of our recent projects; a file with photos and short description of the project. We hope to hear from you and see our work published on your blog. Feel free to contact us for more information.