Renovation of an apartment in Puerta del Sol
by gon architects
There is a popular Italian expression, il dolce far niente, which names a way of life linked to the pleasure of doing nothing, being possibly this unoccupied and idle attitude one of the ways of being in the world that most activates the creativity of the human being.
With this life philosophy, which renounces the rush and bets on a quiet existence, the casa gialla is projected, the reform of a 47m2 apartment located in a building near the very central and tourist Puerta del Sol in Madrid.
Pragmatic and enjoyable were the two starting requirements that Ceci, the owner of the house, suggested. An Italian woman from a town north of Milan, Cassano Magnago, lover of design, technology and the good life.
Under Ceci’s premises, an attic space with wooden beams, dark and compartmentalized, is transformed into a bright, open and flexible place with two simple and precise actions such as demolishing and equipping.
1) The existing partition walls are removed, which divided the house excessively into different rooms, poorly lit and ventilated, and which included a living-kitchen-dining room, two bedrooms, a small bathroom and a ramshackle terrace.
2) The perimeter of the house is occupied with fragments of a storage system with different heights, the main one being a permeable and linear piece of furniture with 5.60 meters long, 60 centimeters deep, 2.30 meters high and mustard yellow.
This perimeter storage operation frees up the center of the dwelling, which becomes a large, flexible, multifunctional rectangular room measuring 7 x 2.5 meters, linked to a south-west-facing terrace. In this central space, which has few and light furnishings such as a circular table, two chairs, a sofa, a side table and a countertop with wheels, most of the domestic activities take place; it is the place to cook, eat, work, read, and even sleep thanks to a folding bed hidden in the back wall.
The program of the rest of the house includes the bedroom overlooking the multifunctional room through a window, a bathroom – with the shower separated from the toilet and sink – with double access, and a terrace linked to the central space through a step turned 30º where there are three characteristic elements of an hedonistic life: a shower, a bathtub and plants.
The casa gialla is an oasis of optimism in the middle of the city designed for Ceci’s enjoyment, alone or in company; it is an urban refuge that, as opposed to the exclusively functional house-machine, claims a playful and sensual domestic space where a non-productive time inside is possible and the senses are one more construction material.
In other words, the project favors the unexpected and contemplative life. It is possible that, lying on the mattress that covers the bathtub on the terrace on a hot summer afternoon, Ceci half asleep may come to think, as Bioy Casares says in The Invention of Morel, that the world is made up exclusively of sensations.
Architecture: gon architects
Lead Architect: Gonzalo Pardo
Design Team : Carol Linares, Cristina Ramírez, María Cecilia Cordero, Kostís Toulgaridis, Celia Urbano.
Construction n: REDO Construcción
Surface: 47 m2
Location: Madrid, España
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.