Location: Baix Empordà, Catalonia, Spain
Project Architect: David Pou van den Bossche y Estel Ortega
Photographs: Nani Pujol, Estel Ortega
From the architect. The project was based in the rehabilitation and improvement of the northern part of an old masia from the XVI th century and the hayloft annex, located in the Baix Empordà (Catalonia). Due to the partition in different parts of the masia between the family members, the proposal was based on adapting the correspondant north area to create three new apartments designed for use in summer, mainly.
According to the traditional masia typology, the north side was relegated to accommodate secondary uses, because of the hard weather conditions that includes exposure to the Tramontana wind. Basically the parts to rehabilitate consisted of: the "Cort del Nino" (where the old family horse, Nino, used to live) and "la Pallissa" (independent building used as the old hayloft), both on the ground floor. Upstairs there was a defficient extension containing an old bathroom (now obsolete). This floor level was connected with the “dalt-de-tot" (space above the top floor of the central nave of the masia).
Despite the weather at the north facade, in this side there is a rich area where fruit trees, a vegetable garden and a wide green extension gives quiet peace and beautiful views, with the Gavarres mountains in the rear plane. This side is also isolated from neighbors. In this context, the fundamental conditions were focused on allowing the project to take advantage of the views and tranquility of the space available, but being aware that the new interventions should not compete in the hierarchy with the main part of the masia, and therefore accepting their condition of pieces built gradually as annexes to the main body (so as the history of the masia has always been).
The autonomous body which was used as a hayloft is now understood as an empty stone box, in which the space has to be conceived three-dimensionally: in cubic meters, not in square meters, despite and because of its small size. The operation retrieves the volume of stone, which will be seen in and out (without plaster, as was originally). Only a new landscape window appears to discover the views from the inside to outside for the first time.
The distribution is arranged around a new small core of services that allows the original walls of stone to be completely perceived all around. A mezzanine that does not occupy the entire perimeter creates a void in the living room, where the landscape window is. It also releases the private bedroom upstairs, hidden by the services volume. If on one hand the original stone determines the character of space, on the other the new combination appears white and red providing vitality and specially light into space. The whole construction is developed through traditional construction systems and materials, as a four-hand work between the architects and the lifelong trowel.