In an art nouveau building of the Eixample district of Barcelona, a poorly orientated apartment wasted a considerable amount of space for the Italian family who struggled to use it for holidays. The transversal wall which dissected the apartment longitudinally was, unfortunately, load bearing. It had to stay, cutting up the apartment. Adding to the complexity of this puzzle was the clients’ desire to highlight the early 1900’s detailing of the building, while still wanting the apartment to speak with a contemporary language.
So, how did the architects from CaSA joins and Margherita Serboli Arquitectura create a space that entertained the past, without feeling trapped by it, and how did they make a dissected layout feel holistic?
Cleverly, the architects transformed the bearing wall from a barrier into an axis around which the space flowed from kitchen to diner. The large mirror propped against the wall allows the eye-line to bend around the corner, seeing into the living-diner space, and makes the previously divided rooms appear as if they are one. As well as the eye, the foot is also encouraged to stroll around the axis with the hydraulic tile that unifies the kitchen and diner together with a ‘continuous carpet’ effect. One almost forgets that the wall is there.
The architects designed this hydraulic tile, characteristically art nouveau, with contemporary colours, fulfilling the clients desire to have the best of past and present. To further retrieve the art nouveau essence, the original features have been restored, adapted so as not to betray the contemporaneity. The original woodwork around the windows hints at the history, while the new colours keep us in the present. Above the dining area, a false ceiling was removed to uncover the historical terracotta Catalan vaults.
A Mediterranean-inspired atmosphere dominates the entire floor with a combination of colours influenced by original features, such as the amaranth wooden window frames, and the pale and pastel tones, illuminated by the light reflected off the white satin floor, from Ultratop by Mapei. Paintings by Piero Serboli bring a burst of the colourful present to the walls, while the antique bevelled mirror and old radio record-player from NeuKölln remind us, again, of the origins.
In the kitchen, an industrial extractor – flush with the ceiling – avoids the fitting of an obstructive hood above the stove, keeping the space open, and preserving the line of sight from the kitchen through to the dining area. The worktops are White Zeus Extreme from Silestone, and made of 90% quartz. The fridge is the FAB28LB1 by SMEG.
Photos by Roberto Ruizcolomboserboli.com