House of Mirrors by Nook Architects
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Area: 118 m2
Architects: Nook Architects
Photography: nieve | Productora Audiovisual
Paintings: Esther Mir
The projects we have done so far have had very centric locations within the city of Barcelona: Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Gràcia, Poble Nou… This time, however, it was at the centre of it all. Located in Plaça Catalunya, the first thing we did was to look out from the generous balcony doors to the urban sights outside, from a very privileged location on one of the building’s top floors. It was then that we knew that the day zones were to be located towards these valuable openings to the city’s frenetic rhythm.
The customer, amazed by Barcelona’s centre, had a very clear distribution in mind. He wanted a spacious dwelling for him as the main occupant during his occasional visits to the city and for hosting his guests. The kitchen had to be at the centre of it all, serving as a meeting point- more of a gastro bar than a family kitchen. It also had to be complemented by wine cellar for more than 600 bottles.
The intervention began by allocating the living room on the outermost space, between the facade and first load-bearing wall, and we blended it with the next space towards the interior. These two spaces were originally separated by a load-bearing wall, which we partially brought down to create two large openings that help bring together both spaces. All of the daytime activities occur on 61 m2 out of the total 118 m2, leaving the rest of the rooms to be adjacent to the building’s two patios. The main bedroom, with an in-suite bath, is close to the entry and opens to the more intimate patio. The bathtub and vanity blend with the bedroom and large closet separates it from the hallway. Further down the hall a guest bathroom was allocated with the guest bedroom just in front of it, which opens up to the building’s main staircase’s atrium. Adjacent to the guest bedroom and with direct access to the kitchen is the wine cellar, which includes a wooden wine rack and a wine cooler.
There was a great amount of windows for a distribution with such a small amount of rooms. The apartment has 10 openings to the exterior, including windows and balcony doors. To increase the presence of these openings and to multiply their presence we used mirrors to highlight the architecture of the beginning of the previous century. In the hallway, which has 3 generous windows overlooking the building’s atrium, we placed very large mirrored panels to multiply the views of these windows and to give the space a more diaphanous character. Such is the same with the remaining section of the load-bearing wall that was brought down, which disappears on single, vertical mirror. In this case, the mirror dissolves the wall, bringing the attention to the two balcony doors and allows the cook to control the shelves behind him while he entertain his guests.
The high ceilings allowed us to place horizontal windows that bring in light to the darkest areas of the apartment, making every space more airy without compromising privacy.
When it comes to materials, the project recuperated the original features, such as the vaulted, ceramic slabs and iron beams in the ceilings. The rest are noble materials (wood, granite, steel and glass), all in neutral tones with the exception of the granite used in the kitchen and bathrooms. The Stromboli granite adopts a strong role within the space with its dark, black setting for its golden streaks, which contrasts heavily to the light tones of the hexagonal hydraulic pavement, typical of the Eixample.
Contemporary and warm finishes highlight the original envelope, which is only altered to bring back a spirit more honest to the building’s tectonics and to allow it to evolve to today’s standard of comfort and living style.
Nook is the result of teamwork of those of us who met in an architecture studio designed by the great, exiled architect Josep Lluís Sert. We slowly fled from a photogenic double-height space towards a nook where ideas went to seek refuge between the heat of the only radiator, effort, work interrupted by laughs, various soundtracks, personal anecdotes, and wit to achieve the best results with minimum sacrifice.
Nook is the beginning of a different concept of Barcelona architects that do not want to be exiled.
From left to right: Rubén F Berenguer, Ana García & Joan G Cortés
Ana Garcia began her professional career in 2001, after graduating from U.P.C Barcelona, and after collaborating during several years of academic development in the Romagosa Caralt studio, where she acquired basic knowledge of the development of preliminary and final projects and project management.
She destined a full year of her academic preparation at Universidade do Porto, escuela FAUP.
Since then she has collaborated with several architecture firms; Colomer Prat i Arquitectes Associats and Boquer Julià, as chief of working teams and responsible for the planning of the different design and construction phases, as well as the implementation of ISO 9001 standards.
In 2005, after completing the postgraduate degree of Project and Construction Process at the Escola Sert, she established her self as an architectural design teacher and studio, and continued to collaborate with the following architecture and interior design firms: A. Puigmartí, González Podio, and EC Compta Arquitectes, in which, apart from construction and interior design projects, she took part of special urban rehabilitation projects, projects for invitation-only competitions, and construction management.
Her teaching experience has been specialized to final thesis projects and the recognition of foreign academic titles.
In 2011 she cofounded nook architects, along with Joan Cortés and Rubén Férez, an architecture, urbanism and interior design studio.
Joan G Cortés
Joan Cortés began his professional career in 2009, after graduating from U.P.C Barcelona, and collaborating during several years with professional firms such as BOMA (structures consultants), Mora-Sanvisens Arquitects and EC Compa Arquitectes, where he acquired basic knowledge of the development of preliminary and final projects, urbanism, and design.
He spent a year abroad at the LTH, Lunds Tekniska Högskola, in Sweden, where he further developed his studies of experimental architecture and design. He also formed part of the Pole Europe 2K’6 Landscape and Urbanity program at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland.
Since 2009 he tallies his own professional practice with his collaboration with the EC Compta Arquitectes studio, participating in various projects for multifamily residences, single family residences, public buildings, refurbishments, interior design, and public and private competitions; taking part on the design and construction phases of architectural projects.
He has also participated on several digital architectural representations in 3D and animation, for architectural projects, interior design, competitions, and academic projects.
In 2011 he cofounded nook architects, along with Ana García and Rubén Férez, an architecture, urbanism, and interior design studio.
Rubén F Berenguer
Rubén Férez began his professional career in 2010, after graduating from U.P.C Barcelona, and collaborating during several years with professional firms such as GVR Arquitectes and EC Compta Arquitectes, where he acquired basic knowledge of architecture, urbanism, and design projects, as well as competitions for public buildings and urban planning.
He spent a year abroad at Ludovico Quaroni, La Sapienza, in Rome, where he further developed his expertise in Architecture History and in Restoration and Rehabilitation techniques.
Since 2010 he tallies his own professional practice with his collaboration with the EC Compta Arquitectes studio, participating in various projects for multifamily residences, single family residences, public buildings, refurbishments, interior design, public and private competitions, and urban redevelopment projects. He has also collaborated with the Sin Espaio sE studio, as well as other digital architectural representation projects and architecture competitions.
In 2011 he cofounded nook architects, along with Ana García and Joan Cortés, an architecture, urbanism, and interior design studio.
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