Refurbishment of a penthouse in Serrano street

Refurbishment of a penthouse in Serrano street, Madrid. Spain
Architect: Mariano Molina Iniesta

When faced sometimes with the question “what kind of architecture are we up to?”, the most convincing answer is probably “the one that circumstances allow”. This is particularly true in the case of a refurbishment, in which preexistences, coupled with the program and the wishes of the client, leave little room for a purely speculative proposal.
Fortunately, preexistences gave enough flexibility in this case: the entire vertical structure was located in the perimeter except for a central column to which a ventilation shaft was attached. This allowed to freely reorganize the house according to the new program with some easiness and even to create unusual situations for a city center, such as the possibility to enjoy the landscape towards three cardinal points from the kitchen (sunrise), main bedroom (noon) and living room (sunset). These three large openings allow, especially in winter, natural light to flood the house at specific times of the day.
Beyond the advantages offered by the triple orientation of the house, elements such as the balcony of the living room or the staircase that leads to the upper level were seized to play with the subtlety of a glass corner or a hanging stringer, to become the elements that trap the viewer’s gaze.
The upper level is an absolutely exceptional situation to enjoy the skyline of the southern half of Madrid. It already had a room whose volume could not be modified, in which the triple orientation of the lower level was replicated. In addition, the presence of the ventilation shaft was used to create an alabaster lantern that floods the terrace with warm light during the night and shyly looks down Serrano street. It serves as a hinge giving unity to the different exterior areas, but in any case it does not intend, and probably it would not be able to, compete with the vision of the city skyline.

Location: Madrid
Project: 2015
Construction: 2015-2016
Architect: Mariano Molina Iniesta
Collaborators: Belén Collado González
Builder: Comercial Illescas
Built area: 204,25 m2 (housing) + 124,04 m2 (terrace)

Architects: Mariano Molina


Mariano Molina Iniesta

Architect, graduated from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) in 1997. PhD architect from UPM since 2015. Obtained the First National Prize of Architecture, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture to the best academic records among graduating students from all schools of architecture in the country. Collaborated from 1997 to 2000 at the architectural office of Rafael Moneo Vallés. Received a fellowship from La Caixa to pursue post-professional studies in the US and, as a result of it, obtained a Master degree in Architecture with Distinction at Harvard University, in 2002. On completion of this program, he received the Kevin V. Kieran Prize, awarded by the Department of Architecture in recognition of the highest level of academic achievement among students graduating from the post-professional Master in Architecture (MArch II) program at Harvard University. Mariano Molina works as a freelance architect and structural consultant since 2002, with past and ongoing commissions in Spain, US, Mexico, Morocco and Ethiopia. He is currently lecturing at the Institute of Technology, CEU San Pablo University (Escuela Politécnica Superior de la Universidad CEU San Pablo). Courses taught since 2002 include Structural Analysis, Structural Dimensioning, Advanced Structural Design and History of Architecture. He also serves as structural advisor for Thesis Project at CEU San Pablo University. He has also been a faculty member at the Master’s Program in Building Structures, sponsored by Escuela de la Edificación Foundation and Technical University of Madrid (UPM), between 2004 and 2011.