Multiple House / P+S Estudio de Arquitectura
Photographs: Imagen Subliminal
Francisco Parada, Laura R. Salvador
Text description provided by the architects. The assignment consisted of the renovation of an 1850’s apartment located in the historic centre of Madrid, with an area of 45m2. The client’s need to generate a new space containing at least one bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, enough storage space, and the possibility of some small extra space for different uses -without subdividing the spaces too much-, making the most of the south orientation of the balcony to fill all the rooms with light, posed a major challenge.
In this way, the house is conceived as a multiple of itself, seeking to multiply the possibilities of appropriation in a reduced spatial area. In this way, “Multiple House” refers to the necessary uncertainty of uses that we understand contemporary housing should have, where the adaptability and flexibility of the spaces play a fundamental role to allow the addition of areas of use without having to necessarily grow in square meters.
In this sense, the initial question we asked ourselves in order to take on the assignment had to do with how to grow and multiply the uses in a house that only allowed 35m2 of usable space. Consequently, the variable of time (temporality of use) established a first clue and the first resource of action, as a strategy of intervention, assuming the need not to determine enclosures of static uses in those spaces that allowed a transformation during daily use.
In this way, the house reconfigures the original subdivision, leaving only the structural perimeter as a base, thus establishing a new spatial configuration from the definition of a wet axis that gathers the kitchen and bathroom, articulated by an access area to the house that will function as a hall. The living-dining room area will then be articulated with the bedroom through two mobile panels that allow to add or subtract meters to each of these two areas, allowing, in turn, to connect the entire floor of the house, in relation to the transformation or uses that the user wants to define; thus allowing the creation of new corners, new visual relationships, and circulations, which may appear in the daily use of space.
Both movable partitions, in turn, are articulated by a closet shelf that functions as an intermediate piece between the living-dining room and bedroom spaces. The latter is conceived as a flexible scenario, with the design of a folding bed that allows the bedroom to be transformed into a work area, a leisure space, or to communicate completely with the main living room. In this way, it is projected as an indeterminate space, where the movement of the panels, together with the appearance or disappearance of the bed, opens the way to randomness, flexibility, and transformation of uses.
The strategy with the material was to minimise the number of elements used so that the material would contribute to unifying the spatial operation and thereby reduce the resources used in the work. Thus, the main material is defined, spruce pine wood, which will be used in flooring and furniture, both kitchen, bathroom, folding bed, shelves, as in new window frames, thus establishing a continuous expression between all the spatial elements arranged. At the same time, the use of gray micro cement was chosen for the wet areas of the bathroom and kitchen to avoid joints and facilitate future maintenance. The polycarbonate used for the movable partitions seeks to define a new area to glimpse, connect, divide, and illuminate the deepest part of the house, thus establishing a subtle and economical operation for these elements.
Finally, it was important to highlight the elements that could show the age of the apartment (1850). To do this, it was decided to undress the main wall of the house, so that the original wooden structure and the brick, with all the natural imperfection that the passage of time has added. At the same time, the original woodwork of the main windows is preserved, as well as the interior shutters, which are cleaned, exposing the original pine wood, its grain, and all its patina collected over the years.
Finally, it was decided to whitewash the entire interior, so that the house can absorb as much natural light, which added to the choice of spruce pine wood, end up setting the light atmosphere of the space.