A house built in the 20th century. It needs to be renovated so it can be rented out. It is still in its original state, has never been remodeled, and our budget for the project is very tight.
(We’re beginning to wonder if budgets are ever anything but tight...)
The design strategy is simple: reuse everything that we can. The construction is so bare bones, only the structural elements are really worth keeping: the floor slabs, the party walls, the façades, and the interior partitions around the stairway, which reinforce the whole.
The interventions are centered on two areas of the existing building: On the second floor, we empty out the built volume. Because the ceiling is very low and there are no windows, we remove part of the roof to create a new terrace, which lets in light to the entire upper floor. Here, we put in the study and the children’s playroom. On the ground floor, we add to the built volume. Expanding into part of the back yard, we increase the square footage to the maximum permitted by building regulations. The tall height of the existing ceilings is maintained, and the dimensions are adapted to put in the new kitchen-dining-living area.
The other rooms are tucked in like puzzle pieces: the garage, between the façade and the stairs; a guest bathroom, between the stairs and the kitchen; the children’s bedrooms, the parents’ bedroom, and the bathrooms, on the second floor.
And the design is complete. Our efforts are focused on ensuring quality construction and creating a welcoming atmosphere for each space in the house.
The choice of colors and textures for the finishes in all the rooms is coordinated. There is a balance between the exposed original materials and the drywall, painted white. A third element is also added – wood – as a treatment for the house’s more singular spaces: the vestibule, the storage loft in the garage, the stairway, the kitchen, and a few other furnishings.
(After holding back for so long, we really let loose when it comes time to work with the carpenter...)
Ultimately, halfway through the construction, as the finishes are being installed, the rental unit will have to become a primary residence. The reasons are not important, but it means the budget is expanded. We upgrade the building services to make them more efficient, we choose a prettier pavement, the untreated fir plywood can be switched out for varnished birch, etc.
(We enjoy the expanded budget and continue working along the same lines, with professionalism and discernment...)
Location: Terrassa, Barcelona
Phase: Finished construction
Total floor area renovation: 167m2
Total floor area expansion: 17m2
Gross Floor Area: 184m2
Design date: 2011
Construction date: 2012-2013
Architects: Llorenç Vallribera (VALLRIBERA ARQUITECTES), Montserrat Garcia (BAMMP)
Collaborators: Aleix Gil, architect; Xavier Delgado, quantity surveying; Marc Batlle, structural consulting.
Photographs: ©José Hevia