Exposed bricks and contemporary inserts: a house squeezed between present and past

House BSP20, the new project by Raúl Sànchez Architects a Barcelonais a private residence housed in a late nineteenth-century building in El Born, a lively barrio of the Catalan capital that has changed its skin several times over time: in the Middle Ages the scene of spectacular tournaments, in the nineteenth century the election area of ​​the richest bourgeois families of the city, today a trendy district enlivened by design boutiques, cafes and cocktail bars.

The project does not betray the genius loci, but rather absorbs and enhances it, as already emerges from the sober facade of the building that anticipates the interior concept. It is the entrance door that fulfills this task, highlighting the close relationship between present and past, thanks to the modern aluminum finishes that recall the pattern of traditional Barcelona majolica.

And everything in the project speaks of the magical gaze that can only be triggered when past and present meet, without challenging each other. Starting from walls left exposedpassing through the majolica tiles that cover the floors, up to the iconic self-supporting staircase that enriches the space with its whiteness.

It took eight years to complete the work that was not only immediately slowed down by regulatory obstacles, but also by the condition of total abandonment of the premises and the technical difficulty of adapting one space so vertical – 20 square meters for each floor, to the needs of contemporary living. This was a challenge that the studio decided to win by subtraction, demolishing the superfluous and unsafe elements to reduce the building to the bone. Hence the intuition: “Once the floors were demolished and the building showed itself as a tall and slender prism – supported only by walls made of stones and bricks with no apparent order, the idea of ​​leaving those walls exposed it has become conceptual ”, the study specifies.

This is how the gaps left by removed beams and steps, the traces of arches and the residues of mortar have become the graphic signs of an archaeological document, of an intimate story that can be read through the three renovated floors that never touch the façade. front or rear of the building. With almost museum taste, they are gods glass panes to act as a conjunction between the horizontal and vertical planes of the house, thus allowing the gaze to be free to appreciate its full height and singular visual language. A language enhanced by the skilful use of light that spreads from the skylight on the roof.

The subdivision of the spaces is clear, but designed to adapt to changes and housing needs: on the ground floor there is the kitchen – dining room, on the first floor the living room, while on the other levels in succession the bathroom with the anteroom, the bedroom e The terrace.

The scenographic staircase unifies the rooms and offers surprising glimpses of the house: at each step a different scenario in which the raw history of the walls and the abstraction of the design intervention are mixed, with continuous Piranesian references.

With regard to the materials “in opposition to the raw expressiveness of the existing walls, a certain refinement was pursued in the new elements to be created, aware that the space should host a house”, explains the study. In fact, I am demonstrating it the kitchen – an icastic block brass frosted with white marble top, the bathroom covered in cream lacquered wood with black and gold details, the majolica flooring and oak that add warm shades to the interior; but also the stainless steel pipes that lead the electrical and plumbing systems throughout the house, according to a high-tech approach.

And it is precisely there choice of materials – risky at the right point, to load the project with meanings and free it from easy ruinist temptations: it is the happy dialogue between history and imagination, the synergy between memory and creation that makes the environments vibrant, that gives the material that same vital energy that is can be found between the pages of a book or between the brushstrokes of a painting.

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