Renovation of an attic in the Lavapiés neighborhood
by gon architects
Since 1993, when Manuel, a journalist who loves rock music and opera almost as much as he loves social networks like Instagram, bought and moved into a 30-square-meter attic in Madrid’s Lavapiés neighborhood, the configuration of the space had not been modified. Under a sloping roof of exposed wooden beams without any kind of insulation that made the attic a somewhat gloomy and unsustainable place, the house included two load-bearing walls that segregated it into three rooms (living-kitchen-dining room, bathroom, bedroom) and a semi-hidden and underused terrace.
It was at the end of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, when Manuel, no doubt influenced by the vital limitation that confinement meant to all of us, decided to make a total and radical renovation of his home. He contacted us and asked us for an injection of domestic optimism.
When we arrived, we were truly clear about the actions to transform this space into a new one. They can be summed up in three words: demolish, perforate and furnish. The load-bearing wall between the bedroom/terrace and the living/kitchen/dining room is removed to generate unity; new perforations are made in the roof to introduce as much natural light as possible, and the perimeter of the house is equipped with a new floor-to-ceiling storage system, covered with mirrors which make it disappear. Three operations as clear as they are precise, with minimum energy and maximum results.
The answer is a bright, carefree and comfortable house, adjectives intrinsic to a beach house. The materials used are few but very well chosen: ceramic, paint and mirror.
The final image of the attic is a large qualified room, spatial, luminous, thermally efficient and with an atmosphere that can be modified, turning the room into a scenography that opens and closes according to the mood, as the curtain of a theater opens and closes; a unitary and continuous environment, yet changeable if desired, where the passage from one room to another occurs in a fluid way, with the reference of the different (and few) pieces of furniture that make it up (a table, three chairs, a lamp, an armchair and a bed), and where the common denominator is the floor: a Klein blue polyurethane paint that runs throughout the house, as if it were a marine carpet, helping to blur the boundaries between interior/exterior, public/private, open/closed.
The actions of rest and relaxation take place, metaphorically speaking, in a cave: a threshold lacquered in charcoal gray from which, in a horizontal position, you can look at the sky of Madrid both day and night, and where, in the background, there are three LED strips of different lengths that are a tribute to the American artist Dan Flavin.
The terrace, which is connected to the interior through a ceramic wall turned 45 degrees, becomes another room that introduces light and ventilation in which there is a bench of the same material that invites you to lie down to take a nap on summer afternoons, eat with friends or just sit and read.
Beach House is a vacation house in the center of a city without sea for a person who lives alone, a space that is especially enjoyable in solitude, something that, as in the song about time and silence by the Cape Verdean singer Cesárea Évora, is a new beginning.
Architects: gon (Gonzalo Pardo)
Team: Carol Pierina Linares, María Cecilia Cordero, Iván Rando
Construction: Ancordarq S.L
Carpintería: Cortizo, Velux
Carpintería de madera: Muebles D’vinci s.l.
Lighting: Oliva Ilumunación
Surface: 30 m2
Location: Madrid, Spain
Photography: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)
gon is a Madrid-based architecture and design office headed by Gonzalo Pardo since 2014. His practice focuses on research and development of singular architectural projects of different scales ranging from urban planning to buildings to interior construction.
The common denominator of his works is a playful, experimental, critical and optimistic view of the contemporary. In a constant dialogue based on observation and details, his interest focuses on the creative processes of architectural design and construction, as well as the role of mediation and communication of architecture as fundamental vehicles for transforming the world into a place more sustainable, worthy and free.
Gonzalo Pardo is an architect from ETSAM (School of Architecture of Madrid) since 2007, and has a PhD in Architecture since 2016. His thesis “Body and House: Towards the contemporary domestic space from the transformations of the kitchen and bathroom in the West” obtained the outstanding Cum Laude rating, and received for it the 2016-2017 Extraordinary Doctoral Thesis Award and an honorable mention in the XI call for the Arquia Foundation Thesis Contest.
Since 2007 he teaches as a visiting professor at different universities and institutions, in subjects with the common denominator of being linked to the project, as in the European Institute of Design (IED), in Madrid; the Illiois Institute of Technology (IIT), in Chicago, United States; Lund University, in Sweden, and the Master in Collective Housing (MCH), in Madrid. He has been a professor in the Master in Architectural Communication (MaCA) and in the Master in Advanced Projects (MPAA) of the Department of Architectural Projects at ETSAM.
He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Architectural Projects at ETSAM, where he teaches undergraduate projects. Member of the Hypermedia research group: Communication Workshop and Architectural Configuration, he directs doctoral theses as a teacher and researcher, as well as numerous End of Master’s Projects (TFM) and Final Degree Projects (TFG).
He has been deputy curator of the Spanish pavilion at the 16th Venice Biennale, and since 2000 he has obtained 41 national and international awards, including the first prize for the remodeling of the AZCA block in Madrid in 2007; the second prizes in the international Skyscraper contests, in New York, and Velux, in Denmark, in 2007; COAM award in 2014 for the Paréntesis curator cycle, and honorable mention in the Europan 14 competition at the Barcelona location. His projects and built work have been widely disseminated in national and international, physical and virtual media.