Architects: Anna Solaz - Estudi d'Arquitectura, CRUX arquitectos
- Year: 2020
Lead Architects: Anna Solaz, Raquel Sola, Alejandro García
- City: Valencia
- Country: Spain
Text description provided by the architects. The commission started from the proposal of the clients to cover one of the attic terraces in order to add a new room to the apartment. Something that according to local regulations was impossible to undertake. Like other commissions, behind asking for one more room and a specific action, there was a need to tackle and a tailored solution for it. What is a room? The penthouse is located in a representative building of Valencia’s old town. The eclectic-style construction was built at the end of the 19th century and due to its singular façade, the alteration on its external appearance is not permitted. The interior surface, barely 80 m2, is complemented by an area of terraces of almost the same extension.
The façade has a series of rhythmic openings, which bathe with natural light the interior and let the bells of the surrounding churches vibrate inside. The existing layout divided the available space without any principle, turning opaque part of the façade windows and generating unnecessary distributions for the scale of the house and rooms with a dysfunctional proportion. The clients understood that the house, although in good condition, did not quite meet their needs. They wanted to host family visits, so the penthouse had to accommodate users with different needs and ways of living, ranging from a group of young people to an adult couple. The answer was not to redistribute or cover a terrace to get a new room, but to unlearn the Western conception of housing as the addition of rooms, looking for a more fluid solution.
The intervention strategy seeks the indeterminacy of the space to enable multiple ways of occupation and appropriation, capable of accommodating not just one use, but many. Kitchen, living room, storage room, bedroom, laundry, and bathroom, previously closed and individual rooms, turn into a continuous cabinet that hosts all the services. The existing partitions are removed and a wooden ribbon is built so that the oscillating space between the interior and the terraces can be occupied in many different ways.
During the day the folding doors are opened and space flows into an open layout. When necessary, space is divided using these folding doors and a more quiet and private room appears. The new ‘thick wall’ sets a ribbon with a curvilinear trajectory, emphasized by the light that floods the apartment. The plywood board is showing its birch interior, inviting to be touched and transformed. The continuous wooden furniture is not understood as the protagonist, but as a kind of background for the apartment, a framework that encourages users to express themselves freely. In the context of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, we see more than ever the need to overcome the conception of housing as a static, compositional and quantitative construction. On the contrary, we seek a residential architecture, close to its users, which enables movements and dynamic events, changeable, psychoactive, and unpredictable, able to accommodate unexpected situations such as a long lockdown.