From Domesticity to Hospitality
A project by Ignacio G. Galán, Jesse McCormick, and Khoi Nguyen + Julie Tran (Future Projects)
‘My ideal house exists’. This was what Alex, the owner of this 46 m2 home near the busy Callao Square in Madrid, thought the first time he entered the apartment he bought in 2006 to live alone; a house in which the kitchen was an isolated volume that at the same time was connected to a small living room through a small window and a bedroom with a bathroom where the most characteristic features were the presence of the red color and the natural brickwork on the walls.
Fifteen years later, with a more settled and stable life, focused on journalism and an interest in reading and design, Alex’s vital needs had changed, and with them his way of inhabiting the domestic space. That is when he called us with the desire to commission us to carry out a radical renovation of his apartment, adapted to his present reality.
Menta is conceived as a set of five rooms of different uses and sizes, connected. The function of each of these rooms responds to a traditional domestic scheme that, from the street towards the interior of the house, unfolds in two parts displaced according to this sequence of spaces: living room, kitchen/dining room, entrance hall and a bedroom with bathroom.
Between the kitchen and the living room there is a double translucent polycarbonate sliding door, that gives visual and spatial flexibility to the house. This mechanism facilitates the physical independence of both pieces, while simultaneously provides different degrees of privacy in both spaces when needed. One of the side walls, leading to the next room, has floor-to-ceiling mirrors that affect the visual perception of the space.
All the rooms have a modular storage system, attached at least with a wall, that serves the space in which it is located. This system goes from floor to ceiling and has a variety of inner dimensions depending on what it stores: books, appliances, a collection of magazines, clothes or all those design objects that Alex enjoys so much. This perimeter spatial strategy frees up the rest of the space in each room, which is occupied with specific furniture, where the domestic actions of reading, resting, eating, working or sleeping take place.
Both the interior and exterior organization of each module is unique for each room and it’s designed precisely according to the client’s storage needs.
The design of the kitchen-dining and living room modules are structured with niche wooden boards with doors in different finishes, birch laminate or mint green paint – as a tribute to the color that Prada has been using in its stores since the 90´s in Europe.
menta -mint- is also the name of the house which, like the the plant, concentrates in the same element different utilities.
The rest of the modules, the entrance and the bedroom´s wardrobe, are made with mirrored doors that duplicate the space generating abstract and unexpected visions while in the case of the entrance´s module, creates a secret access to the private space.
Also hidden behind a wooden door, at the end of the house is the room where the care and maintenance of the body takes place: the bathroom. This space is designed like the interior of a cave: in the dark. It is tiled with rectangular anthracite-colored pieces that give the space an intimate and relaxing character. A magical and silent bubble, oblivious to the hustle and noise of the city and the neighbors.
It is difficult to imagine a house for life. There are neither typical users nor a prototype of the perfect home, but a perfect home for a specific person at a very specific time in his or her life. And sometimes not even that.
Alex lives in the house he now needs: more flexible and adapted to how he has changed. He enjoys it alone or in company, exploring his domesticity; cooking -always with a glass of wine- reading, working, soaking up the news of the day, watching a film or simply listening, from his sofa, to the hustle and bustle of Gran Vía with the window wide open.
Architecture: gon architects, Gonzalo Pardo
Team: Carol Linares, Kostís Toulgaridis, María Cecilia Cordero, Cristina Ramírez, Despoina Papadopoulou.
Construction: REDO Construcción
Lightning: Oliva iluminación
Built Area: 46 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.