Old Barcelona dairy-farm rehabilitated into loft style house
Architects: Marc Mazeres DPLG and Lluís Corbella (COMA Arquitectura)
Location: Gracia District. Barcelona.
Photographs: Lluís Corbella, Eva Cotman
Building Surveyor: Miquel Angel Perez
Main Contractors: Greek sl
Before being acquired by the owners, architect Marc Mazeres and his family, the building was an abandoned dairy-farm located in the heart of one of the most charming and lively neighborhoods in Barcelona: Gracia.
About ten cows were kept and milked everyday until 1984, when the last cow left Barcelona from this building. From then on, everything was frozen in time, except the small shop that remained opened and sold milk and other dairy products.
When French architect Marc Mazeres contacted Lluis Corbella, he was looking for a local Catalan architect, in order to facilitate all the administrative and legal issues. But their collaboration proved to be much more, the project was enriched by their interactions of ideas and their common vision of architecture.
From the beginning Mazeres, saw the clear potential to create a family home with distinct spaces : one for the teenagers, one for the parents, one for working and most importantly, one being the central space where everything and everyone would meet : the living room and kitchen.
Therefore one of the main objective was to preserve the original outer envelope (facades and roof), empty the inner space and create inside a program of new volumes.
Old and new
For Corbella and Mazeres the preservation of the original architectonic features was also a major component of the new project, (the facade, the roof, party walls as well as beams and central column). These elements were to be “free” visually to give them an important presence in the project.
The central brick pillar supports the existing and original roof that has been repaired.
Originally the major wood central beam was maintaining the 1st floor that has been destroyed for the new project.
Some of the original wood beams have been reused for the living room's ceiling.
All the new volumes' structure was built with metal (metal staircase, metal beams, metal and concrete composite slab). All these new elements are very impacting just as much as the old structure, creating a high contrast visually.
The house being located among higher buildings, another main idea was to enable natural light to enter at the heart of the house. Its presence in each space is a major component of the project. The 2 facades and the roof have large openings, letting it enter the house at all times of the day even-though the surrounding buildings don't allow direct sunlight.
The treatment of privacy was also an important part of the project, all the bedrooms and major living area had to open on the outside patio, a quiet and calming exterior , whereas work space, tv room and garage are on the street side.
Windows and openings are made of high efficiency aluminum systems with a minimum profile section in order to allow maximum luminosity. Electric aluminum blinds allow a variation of light and calories, while preserving privacy.
Close attention was also paid to the air-conditioning and heating system, in order to be energy-efficient and with a minimum negative impact on the environment. Mazeres, inspired by the traditional Polynesian houses, adapted the natural cross ventilation system to his house. Solar panels, fireplace and floor heating systems are other elements that increase the energy efficiency.
Particular care was also paid to the conception and the carrying out of certain details such as : the metal staircase, the fireplace, the bathrooms and the kitchen, which is prototype designed by Mazeres and built by a family friend.
All the interior design was done by the owners. The furniture and elements are clearly part of their daily life, especially the teenagers! (ping pong table, hanging chair, vintage pinball machine, surf boards etc).
The final result is a house that preserved it's 1930's outer shell and some structural elements in which distinct separate spaces on different levels that function independently, are linked by a central “void” that is accessible visually and physically from anywhere in the house : the living room.