Redesign of a shop into a coffee to read in Plaza de España. Madrid is an independent publisher that operates exclusively online. Along with the sale of books, they finance the projects collectively through crowdfunding, a democratic management model that seeks to establish a community between patrons (readers) and authors. However, the members of this community have rarely met personally.
When Roberto, one of the four partners, calls us at the beginning of the summer of 2017, he proposes us the challenge of creating a physical space for the publisher after finding a place of just 10 m2 near the Plaza de España in Madrid. The result of this ‘materialization’ is La Berlinesa: a place with an aim to be a meeting point between patrons and authors that is articulated as a hybrid business model that unites three of the common passions of its partners: books, coffee and the city of Berlin.
The initial conditions of La Berlinesa are, as usual in architecture, two: time and money. The project requires opening the premises to the public in a record time of two months and with a budget of just 8,000 euros. Our answer was clear: we will not do anything (or almost nothing). As in Ockham’s navigation, in the equality of conditions, the simplest explanation is usually the most probable.
From precise actions, we tried low-cost actions to activate this obsolete space covered completely by gotelé. With a hammer and a chisel, we recover the history of the place present in its walls, bringing from the past a load-bearing wall of brick and two walls painted with a blue-greenish color from when the space was an electronics store.
Despite the small size of the place, the regulations require providing the space with a toilet for staff. What at first appeared to be a disadvantage became a virtue and an opportunity to solve the internal organization of the library; thus, we build a minimum volume located in the entrance, which we cover with a mirror to make it disappear and also builds a threshold, giving more depth to the space.
On this mirror are reflected, in addition to the city and neighbors of the area, the different books placed on linear shelves of wood that we tend on the opposite wall and, as if it were a panopticon, saves space while allowing to the user-client to see all the available titles at once.
We conserve the existing hydraulic tile floor and place on it the element in which most of the budget is invested: a table. Beyond being a piece of furniture with legs like open books upside down, it is architecture; it has the ability to organize and articulate the space of La Berlinesa establishing the boundary between inside and outside, between the dependent and the client. In other words, the table acts as mediator of the place.
We also paint the brick wall in the background white to make the space wider, and the roof in black to achieve a lower volume.
Finally, in the left corner we make a door to another world through a mirror that distorts and transforms the place. A door that summarizes the magic of La Berlinesa. We don’t know if it leads us to the past or the future, but for sure this new space will be full of books. And coffee.


Architects: gon (Gonzalo Pardo) y Ana Torres
Collaborator: Alejandro Sánchez
Carpentry: Mariano García. Alma Ebanistería sl
Photography: Imagen Subliminal
Date: 2018
Location: Madrid
Client: Privado
Surface: 10 m2

Architects: gon architects

Calle San Lucas 6, 2º D
28004, Madrid, SPAIN

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.