Renovation of an apartment to rent in Plaza de España
by gon architects + Ana Torres
Designing anonymous dwellings, without a specific final user, offers the opportunity (and the challenge) to investigate and put into practice concepts such as flexibility, perfectibility and versatility of occupation and the ability to adapt domestic space and time.
This is the case of Flat White, an apartment for rent for long periods of time, a commission that consists of designing, in the client’s own words, “a neutral house” -as if this were possible- susceptible to be occupied by any inhabitant with any way of living; a rehabilitation of a 45m2 space located in Madrid’s city center, near the recently renovated Plaza de España.
Starting from a floor plan of almost square geometric proportions, originally divided in half by a load-bearing wall, a house is projected that seeks, above all, to be a good place to live where its future occupants manage to adapt.
In contrast to the excessive division of the apartment into rooms of different sizes prior to the renovation, the new organization of the domestic space is articulated in four rooms -corresponding to the archetypal pieces of any traditional house (kitchen-dining room, living room, bedroom and bathroom)- of similar dimensions, about 10 m2, and without a corridor.
The four rooms, physically and visually connected – topologically related to each other – make it possible to understand the apartment as a system: a large room containing all the necessary domestic programmatic needs where the public/private, interior/exterior boundaries are diluted.
This great room brings into play several principles present in ideologically advanced dwellings, such as the de-hierarchization of spaces, the kitchen as the main character of the house, the atomized bathroom or the rooms without a predetermined use.
The hypothetical spatial neutrality demanded is achieved through the use of white on all surfaces, horizontal and vertical, floors and walls, but also in elements of the house such as the kitchen, sink, shower or toilet.
The use of colour in the rest of the house is limited to the different movable pieces, which constitute a system of objects for carrying out different actions, such as sleeping, eating, bathing, or resting.
Carol and Celia, a couple of entrepreneurs recently installed in the capital and the protagonists of this story, are the first of the many occupants of this blank house on which to draw a future where the best is undoubtedly yet to come.
Architecture: gon architects + Ana Torres
Team: Carol Linares, Cristina Ramírez, María Cecilia Cordero, Kostís Toulgaridis, Celia Urbano
Construction Proiescon s.l.
Lighting: Oliva Iluminación s.a.
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.