“La gran estança era en el primer pis de la torre on les dues professores vivien amb la seva mare i un germà. La sala era molt gran i tenia moltes finestres. Al costat, tan gran com la sala, hi havia la sala dels penjadors i damunt dels penjadors un rengle de ganxos on penjàvem els coixins de fer puntes. Al fons d’aquesta sala hi havia una porta que donava a una galeria coberta i a un costat els lavabos. A mi m’agradava anar-hi per poder-me quedar una estona a la galeria amb el nas encastat als vidres mirant torres i jardins.”
Mercè Rodoreda, writer and neighbour from Farró.
Mercè Rodoreda's characters walk through the streets of Farró, Barcelona, echoing a way of life that has disappeared, made up of small gardens with fig and pomegranate trees, wisteria, trellised rose bushes, hydrangeas planted in wooden boots; turreted roofs and railings adorned with geraniums; dining rooms with iron lamps filled with flowers and dragons, and finished with red trimmings; the glass door, with thousand-colored glass, which leads to the back garden. Houses where the relations between neighbors were, for better and for worse, like those of a large family. Streets full of vendors, playful and mischievous children, couples in love leaning on the fence where the yellow burst of mimosa spills. And only very occasionally, through the main streets, the majestic passing of a car.
We found the house in Mont-Roig 7 abandoned, a construction of an ‘austere modernism’ with two apartments, one on each floor, that historically had undergone several phases of growth.
Initially, during the first third of the 19th century, the ground floor was built, which consisted of two ‘body houses’, each 4 meters wide. During the same century, several extensions were made, adding a floor level, but keeping the two houses, one next to the other. At that time, it still answered to a rural house in Sant Gervasi.
At the beginning of the 20th century, before the war, the modernist intervention was carried out, which unified the two houses, with a large gallery on the main facade of the garden and a lookout tower on the roof. This transformation was promoted to be used during summer vacations by a bourgeoisie family from Barcelona, when the city was limited to ‘Ciutat Vella’.
One of the challenges of the project has been to value the two eras the building lived through, recovering the two houses from the 19th century and enhancing the characteristic spaces of the modernist era.
At the same time, we wanted to respond to new forms of living and propose new housing models that overcome the current stagnation of traditional models.
The houses are made up of different successive and non-hierarchical rooms, achieving an inclusive design, highlighting housing equity that breaks with spatial hierarchies, as well as with the traditional distribution of roles and power.
Each room takes advantage of the entire four-meter width, is not intended for any specific use, and can be adapted, even divided, to respond to the diversity of uses required in the different life stages of its occupants, betting on flexibility and adaptability, and achieving a great space resilience.
Accomplishing great spatial quality in each of these rooms has been one of the main goals of the project. The enhancement of each of the original construction elements and different temporal layers that are discovered in all corners of the house, give each room its own idiosyncrasy, which makes each of them a project on its own.
The central rooms, the only ones that communicate vertically with each other, are also a large interior patio that becomes the articulating axis of each house. They function as a great distributor and a linking space between rooms.
In addition, these become open, indefinite and high-quality bathing areas, intermediate spaces in the heart of both homes.
The transition and the relation between rooms, through large portals with mobile elements (in one house, original recovered doors, in the other, natural textile curtains), favor crossed sights and increase the combinations of relationships between the uses they host, while they enrich the circulation of the house, which becomes more complex and dynamic.
This route between rooms is always developed by going from an 'interior' space to a 'semi-exterior' space, and vice versa, since these are always interspersed, thanks to the central location of the rooms-patio, and always evokes in the gallery space, that confers the facade to the garden, recovering and highlighting the importance of these forgotten vernacular spaces.
The gallery and the central patio provide a thermal buffer that passively regulates the comfort of all rooms, with solar thermal gain in winter and natural ventilation in summer, as well as the entry of light from different directions in all rooms.
The inert elements that make up the 'artisan' constructive excellence of the time are valued, as well as the integration of all the structural interventions that have been necessary to recover and adapt the houses.
These new interventions are mixed with the floors, stuccoes, vaults, coffered carpentry and changing but harmonious original colors that run throughout the house and make each space and room a timeless setting that revives the different layers and experiences that have been carried out and, at the same time, accompanies the new indefinite and changing experiences that are yet to come.